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NFL's Week 14 Late Game Previews


Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson


Denver Broncos (6-6) vs. San Francisco 49ers (2-10)

Preview

The front runners for the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft will be playing a red-hot Broncos team coming off three straight victories. Unfortunately for Denver, disaster has struck, leaving both Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris Jr. on the shelf. The Broncos are coming off two impressive wins over top AFC contenders in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, and now are competing for a spot in the postseason with just four games left in the regular season. It will be tough for the Broncos to overcome the recent injures, but how likely is it the 49ers can muster a win in a lost season?


Players to watch

With Emmanuel Sanders out for the year and Demaryius Thomas in Houston, Broncos rookie and now top receiver Courtland Sutton has some big shoes to fill. With the passing game struggling, Denver will continue to look to their standout rookie running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman to carry the load in a matchup against a middling 49ers rush defense. As Chris Harris Jr. continues to nurse his injury, Nick Mullens will have an easier afternoon attempting to match his 400 yard, 2 touchdown performance from a week ago. After two quiet games, George Kittle will need to have a big performance if the 49ers want any chance to pull off the upset. The 49ers are depleted at the running back position and will continue to look to use Jeffrey Wilson as the bellcow.


Keys to the game

Denver Broncos

Pressure Nick Mullens

Establish the Ground Game

Force turnovers


San Francisco 49ers

Run the ball

Control the clock

Limit Turnovers

Stop Phillip Lindsay


Injury list

Denver Broncos

Shaquil Barrett, LB - Hip (Out)

Tramaine Brock, CB - Ribs (Out)

Chris Harris, CB - Fibula (Out)

Brandon Marshall, LB - Knee (Questionable)


San Francisco 49ers

Matt Breida, RB - Ankle (Out)

Pierre Garcon, WR - Knee (Out)

Jaquiski Tartt, S - Shoulder (Out)

K’Waun Williams, CB - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Phillip Lindsay, RB (DEN)

Courtland Sutton, WR (DEN)

George Kittle, TE (SF)

Jeffery Wilson, RB (SF)

Case Keenum, QB (DEN)

Prediction

A lot of analysts have this marked down as a cake walk for the Broncos, but it should be a much closer game than many expect. The 49ers are coming off two ugly losses and will look to improve quickly. However, still don't expect them to pull off the upset. Although there may be hope, Phillip Lindsay will have another monster game while leading Denver to a fourth straight win and a 7-6 record. They will be in the thick of the playoff race after this victory.


Final Score: Broncos 27, 49ers 16


Written by: Jason Feiner



Cincinnati Bengals (5-7) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (9-3)

Preview

This matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers features two teams that are opposite ends of the spectrum in the AFC. The Bengals have plummeted after a promising start and are looking at a likely top 10 pick in next year’s draft. On the opposite side, the Chargers are rolling, coming off an impressive comeback victory on the road over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Crazier things have happened but all things point to this game turning into a blowout.


Players to watch

With injuries to both quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, the Bengals must turn to the ground game if they want any chance of winning this game. Running backs Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard have to show up to play as they will be going up against a Chargers defense that has only allowed 104 yards per game on the ground. For the Chargers, the duo of quarterback Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen has been outstanding so far this season. They look to continue the same this week as they face a terrible Bengals secondary that ranks 31st against the pass.


Keys to the game

Cincinnati Bengals

Attack on the ground

Put pressure on Rivers

Put together long drives


Los Angeles Chargers

Stop the run

Limit turnovers

Capitalize on big plays


Injury list

Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. Green, WR - Foot (IR)

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB - Ankle (Out)

Tony Mcrae, CB - Concussion (Out)

Cordy Glenn, T - Back (Out)

Josh Malone, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

Vontaze Burfict, OLB - Concussion (Out)


Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Gordon, RB - MCL (Out)

Trevor Williams, CB - Knee (Out)

Sean Culkin, TE - Back (Doubtful)

Brandon Mebane, NT - No injury related (Doubtful)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Philip Rivers, QB (LAC)

Keenan Allen, WR (LAC)

Austin Ekeler, RB (LAC)

Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)

Tyler Body, WR (CIN)

Prediction

This game has the chance to be a blowout, and it will be. Without any form of passing game, the Bengals have very little hope of staying in this game. It will be just as bad for them on the defensive side of the ball as Rivers should be due for another big game. Cincinnati will score a couple touchdowns to make the scoreboard look a little better but I have the Chargers winning by multiple scores. With the win, the Chargers hold on to the top spot in the wildcard picture and continue their chase of the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.


Final Score: Chargers 35, Bengals 14


Written by: Ryan Lippert



Detroit Lions (4-8) vs. Arizona Cardinals (3-9)

Preview

Detroit is coming off a tough stretch of games in which they escaped with just a 1-5 record against some of the top teams in the NFC. They now head to Arizona to take on a rebuilding Cardinals team looking to acquire a high pick come draft season. With both teams seemingly out of the playoffs this will be a competition for draft position featuring some of the top commodities in fantasy football. With Arizona struggling in Steve Wilks’ first season as head coach, and the Lions failing to provide much offensive production don’t expect a high scoring game in this contest of NFL bottom feeders.


Players to watch

Many will be tuning into this matchup to keep up with the 2019 draft order and to follow the performances of Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, LeGarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick with the fantasy playoffs looming. On the other sideline, David Johnson will be looked upon to carry his owners to the second round of the postseason in week 15. Johnson may have a tough time running between the trenches with Damon “Snacks” Harris taking up the interior of the field. Josh Rosen has been slowly improving each time he steps on the field, but ball protection has never been his strong suit. He’s committed 11 interceptions and 7 fumbles in 10 games. With their star rookie Christian Kirk heading to IR, more opportunities will be provided to the aging Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald.


Keys to the game

Detroit Lions

Stop David Johnson

Force Turnovers

Establish the Run


Arizona Cardinals

Pressure Matt Stafford

Control the Clock

Protect the Ball


Injury list

Detroit Lions

Kerryon Johnson, RB - Knee (Out)

Trevor Bates, LB - Ankle (Out)

Nick Bellore, FB - Ankle (Out)

Bruce Ellington, WR - Back (Questionable)

Kerry Hyder, Jr., Illness (Questionable)

Devon Kennard, LB - Hip (Questionable)

Brandon Powell, WR - Calf (Questionable)

Michael Roberts, TE - Shoulder (Questionable)

Darius Slay, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

Matthew Stafford, QB - Back (Questionable)


Arizona Cardinals

Deone Bucannon, S - Chest (Out)

Budda Baker, S - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Larry Fitzgerald, WR (AZ)

Matthew Stafford, QB (DET)

David Johnson, RB (AZ)

Kenny Golladay, WR (DET)

Detroit D/ST


Prediction

The Cardinals are boasting a new look offensive line featuring three rookies in center Mason Cole, left tackle Korey Cunningham and guard Colby Gossett, while filling in their vacant right tackle position with backup Will Holden. Although the Lions don’t possess a dominant pass rush, expect them to reach Rosen’s drop point and harass the young signal caller all game. This won’t be a high scoring affair by any means, but should provide a fifth win for Detroit. They will force turnovers and utilize their combination of lightning (Riddick) and thunder (Blount) in their backfield.


Final Score: Lions 23, Cardinals 15


Written by: Jason Feiner



Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-10)

Preview

This Sunday afternoon matchup will feature two teams that are both coming off close losses. The Raiders came just short of upsetting the top-ranked Kansas City Chiefs last week. On the opposite side, the Steelers blew a 17-point lead at home in a heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Pittsburgh has a lot to play for as they are just a ½ game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North and are also looking to move up in the AFC playoff seeding. The Raiders are coming into this one with nothing to lose as they are out of the playoff race and looking at a likely top 5 pick in next year’s draft.


Players to watch

Unfortunately for the Steelers, they will be without starting running back James Conner after he suffered an ankle injury last week against the Chargers. They will be calling on rookie running back Jaylen Samuels to start in his place. Samuels will be going up against an awful Raiders defense that ranks 31st against the run, allowing 153.2 yards per game on the ground. If Oakland wants any chance of winning this one, they must have a big game from Derek Carr in the passing game. Outside linebackers TJ Watt and Bud Dupree will look to make things very uncomfortable for Carr as they will be going up against an offensive line that has been devastated by injuries this season.


Keys to the game

Pittsburgh Steelers

Get Samuels going early

Feed Antonio Brown

Finish drives/limit turnovers


Oakland Raiders

Put pressure on Roethlisberger

Protect Carr

Limit big plays


Injury list

Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner, RB - Ankle (Out)

Anthony Chickillo, OLB - Ankle (Questionable)

Morgan Burnett, S - Back (Questionable)

Marcus Gilbert, T - Knee (Out)


Oakland Raiders

Seth Roberts, WR - Concussion (Questionable)

Maurice Hurst, DT - Achilles (Questionable)

Daryl Worley, CB - Shoulder (Questionable)

Arden Key, DE - Knee (Questionable)

Kyle Wilber, LB - Hamstring (Questionable)

Kelechi Osemele, G - Toe (Questionable)

Doug Martin, RB - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Antonio Brown, WR (PIT)

Ben Roethlisberger, QB (PIT)

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (PIT)

Derek Carr, QB (OAK)

Jaylen Samuels, RB (PIT)

Prediction

If all things go they way they should, this game shouldn’t be close. Even without Conner, the Steelers have too many offensive weapons for this Oakland defense. Samuels will have a big day and prove that he is worthy of being used in this offense moving forward. On the opposite side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s defense should have a field day as the Raiders have very few weapons to work with. Oakland may keep it interesting for a little, but talent will take over in this game as the Steelers will get back on track with a huge win.


Final Score: Steelers 31, Raiders 14


Written by: Ryan Lippert



Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) vs. Dallas Cowboys (7-5)

Preview

The Eagles and Cowboys may not have expected the route they took to get to this point in Week 14, but here they are, preparing for a crucial NFC East showdown in Jerry World. The winner will take the outright lead in the division with just three more games to play. While both teams certainly consider this a must-win game, Dallas may be in slightly better position to handle a loss should Philadelphia get the upset. Dallas enters the game as the current NFC East leader and is 5-1 at home on the year, with remaining games at IND, vs TB, and at NYG. Following their huge win against New Orleans last week, a win against Philly would put them in excellent position to win the division and even challenge Chicago for the #3 seed in the NFC playoff picture. The Eagles are also optimistic coming off consecutive division wins against the Giants and Redskins, though they'll have a tougher road beyond this week (at LAR, vs HOU, at WAS). Therefore, a loss in Big D makes a return to the postseason increasingly unlikely for Doug Pederson's team.


Players to watch

In the first matchup between these two teams, Carson Wentz threw for 360 yards and 2 TDs in what was Golden Tate's first game with the Eagles. He has since become more involved in their offensive attack (7 rec, 85 yds, TD vs Washington last week). Another name to keep an eye on is Zach Ertz, who Dallas must figure out how to slow down after letting him accumulate 14 catches for 145 yards and 2 TDs when they first met. Darren Sproles will also be on the field this time around, giving the Philly offense another dimension. Last week against the Saints, Rod Marinelli's defense had success utilizing the athleticism of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and sometimes even a defensive back (i.e. Jourdan Lewis) to cover Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. Expect a similar plan for the speedy, shifty Sproles. On offense for the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott has been on a tear during Dallas' four-game winning streak as he has been much more involved as a receiver as of late. Also look for Amari Cooper, who has caught 16 balls for 256 yards and 2 scores the last two games, to consistently challenge the back-end of the Eagles defense.


Keys to the game

Philadelphia Eagles

Efficiency in redzone, touchdowns over field goals

Sustain drives, wear out the Dallas defense

Attack the seams with Ertz


Dallas Cowboys

Take care of the ball (Dak)

Keep utilizing Zeke in the passing game

Tackle in space


Injury list

Philadelphia Eagles

Jordan Hicks, LB - Calf (Out)

Jalen Mills, CB - Foot (Out)

Michael Bennett, DE - Foot (Questionable)

Timmy Jernigan, DT - Back (Questionable)

Avonte Maddux, CB - Ankle/Knee (Questionable)


Dallas Cowboys

Tavon Austin, WR - Groin (Out)

David Irving, DL - Ankle (Out)

Sean Lee, LB - Hamstring (Out)

Geoff Swaim, TE - Wrist (Out)

Michael Gallup, WR - Illness (Questionable)

Tyron Smith, OT - Neck (Questionable)

Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG - Ankle/Thumb (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL)

Amari Cooper, WR (DAL)

Zach Ertz, TE (PHI)

Golden Tate, WR (PHI)

Dak Prescott, QB (DAL)

Prediction

Dallas is riding high after limiting the potent New Orleans offense to just ten points last Thursday night, but it's unfair to expect such a low-scoring affair again. Not much will come easy for either offense, but both teams should be able to find ways to move the ball as the game goes on. It will likely come down to turnovers and efficiency in the red zone. The Eagles seemed to have found a little more offensive rhythm since giving Josh Adams more carries and finding ways to get Golden Tate and Darren Sproles the ball in space, but the Dallas defense can match speed better than most defenses in the league. It will be a one possession game throughout, but just like last time, the Dallas D gets one final stop at the end of the game to extend their division lead and send the Eagles back home with their season in the balance.


Final Score: Cowboys 27, Eagles 23


Written by: Greg Lehr



Los Angeles Rams (11-1) vs. Chicago Bears (8-4)

Preview

The NFC West champ Los Angeles Rams are headed into Chicago to face the soon-to-be NFC North champ Bears, in what could easily be a playoff matchup preview. There are plenty of storylines tied to this game. Not only is it a battle between two of the most creative and electrifying offenses in the league, it’s a duel between the NFL’s two most dominant defensive players in arguably the past decade. Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack have been nearly unstoppable this year, and what they’ve done to opposing offensive linemen should be illegal. Donald is aiming for back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors and is on pace to break Michael Strahan's sack record. Luckily, the Bears are getting Mitchell Trubisky back, their sensational sophomore QB, after suffering a shoulder injury two weeks ago... just in time to run for his life.


Players to watch

Aqib Talib is finally back, but this is obviously going to be showdown between Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack. Regardless of if they admit it or not, these two will be looking to answer the debate as to who the DPOY is. Mitchell Trubisky will need to get outside the pocket, get the ball out quickly, and exploit the Rams linebackers against the elusive Tarik Cohen. Chicago’s all-star cast of LBs in Leonard Floyd, RoQuan Smith, and Danny Trevathan will have their hands full against Todd Gurley, the league’s leader in yards and TDs. Even if the Bears do stop the Rams’ ground game (easier said than done), Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller will need to limit Jared Goff and his WR duo of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.


Keys to the game

Los Angeles Rams

Let Aaron Donald him feast

Establish the run and let Gurley go wild

Add a spy or double team Tarik Cohen

Protect Goff from Mack


Chicago Bears

Get the ball out of Trubisky’s hands

Limit Aaron Donald at all costs

Get Tarik Cohen the ball early and often

Make the Rams O one dimensional


Injury list

Los Angeles Rams

Malcolm Brown, RB - Shoulder (Out)


Chicago Bears

Deon Bush, S - Hamstring (Doubtful)

Bilal Nichols, DT - Knee (Questionable)

Eddie Jackson, S - Shin (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Todd Gurley, RB (LAR)

Tarik Cohen, RB (CHI)

Mitchell Trubisky, QB (CHI)

Jared Goff, QB (LAR)

Brandin Cooks, WR (LAR)

Prediction

An immovable object in the Bears’ defense versus an unstoppable force in the Rams’ offense — which team will budge? You have to lean towards the Rams. LA’s offense is just too potent to be shut down, much less slowed down, even against the best defense in the league. The Rams may be vulnerable defensively, but they have an MVP-caliber talent in Aaron Donald, who has been a one-man wrecking crew. Unless the Bears can shut down the two best players at their position in Donald and Todd Gurley, I can’t see how they win this game. Matt Nagy will need to scheme up some quick developing misdirection plays in order to counter the Rams pass rush. Trubisky will need to be damn near perfect if they hope to beat the #1 team in the league, and Khalil Mack will have to have a career game in order to pull this one off.

Final Score: Rams 31, Bears 20


Written by: Jack Bourgeois

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