We’re all the way down to the final quarter of the season, when NFL playoff races tighten up, particular person participant awards are received and misplaced and coaches could possibly be on discover. Particularly, there are two NFC matchups this week with huge playoff implications.
Listed here are six questions for Week 14:
Will the Packers offense be higher with out Mike McCarthy?
In atypical transfer for the franchise, the Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy and have turned to offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to take over. Depth at receiver continues to be an issue for the offense, and working again Aaron Jones wants extra touches. However in opposition to the Falcons, Philbin may have his first likelihood to name performs in a non-exhibition sport since 1996, so a studying curve is to be anticipated. Search for him to rely closely on Aaron Rodgers – one of many smartest quarterbacks within the NFL – and provides his star the form of performs he is most snug executing.
How will James Conner’s absence have an effect on the Steelers?
Pittsburgh misplaced a key weapon when Conner was dominated out of Sunday’s sport in opposition to the Raiders with a sprained ankle. When the Steelers have not deserted the run, Conner had been efficient. However now it’ll depend on rookie Jaylen Samuels. The fifth-round choose caught a 10-yard landing go late within the loss in opposition to the Chargers after Conner left the sport, however he’s not used to a heavy workload. In opposition to Oakland, the Steelers needs to be high-quality with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger possible carrying the offense. However with video games in opposition to the Patriots and Saints in back-to-back weeks, Pittsburgh may want Conner again quickly.
Will the Texans’ profitable streak attain double digits?
There’s no staff hotter within the NFL proper now than Houston, which has received 9 straight. The schedule hasn’t been onerous, however the Texans are driving a wave of regular and strong play from quarterback Deshaun Watson, a dose of constant manufacturing from working again Lamar Miller and a protection that may get to the quarterback and is tied for fourth with 22 takeaways. Up subsequent is a division battle in opposition to a Colts staff (6-6) needing a win so as to not fade farther from postseason rivalry after a shutout loss to the Jaguars.
Will Chiefs get extra manufacturing out of their working backs?
The discharge of working again Kareem Hunt after footage was printed of his bodily altercation in February with a lady leaves the Kansas Metropolis floor sport at a crossroads. Spencer Ware paced the staff in carries (14) in a victory in opposition to a Raiders staff that entered the week ranked lifeless final in speeding protection, however posted solely 47 yards and one landing. Kansas Metropolis’s main rusher was quarterback Patrick Mahomes (9 makes an attempt for 52 yards). Backup working again Damien Williams added 38 yards on 5 carries. Whereas that strategy labored in opposition to Oakland, the Chiefs will possible want extra manufacturing out of their backs beginning Sunday in opposition to a red-hot Ravens staff that has received three in a row and ranks third within the NFL in speeding protection (87.2 yards per sport).
How will the NFC East take care of the Eagles-Cowboys sport?
Over the previous three weeks, there was no less than one pivotal matchup within the division. And on Sunday, when the Eagles (6-6) journey to face the first-place Cowboys (7-5), the sport basically quantities to a battle for first. If Philly wins, each groups will nonetheless be tied in general document, so the remaining three video games after could be paramount. But when Dallas pulls it out, it might maintain a two-game lead over the Eagles in addition to the head-to-head tiebreaker after claiming the Week 10 assembly between the 2 groups. The Cowboys have received three in a row and are surging – particularly after toppling the Saints final Thursday – however this matchup is unpredictable. During the last six, the squads are cut up 3-3.
Who will emerge within the NFC wild-card hunt?
The Vikings (6-5-1) are at the moment the NFC’s sixth seed, whereas the Seahawks (7-5) stand as the fifth seed. They face off in a captivating matchup Monday night time that would set the trajectory of the convention’s closing two playoff berths. However the Panthers (6-6) – even amid a four-game dropping streak – nonetheless aren’t completed, although they should bounce again in opposition to the Browns (4-7-1). And although they present lead within the NFC East, the Cowboys would issue into the wild-card chase even with a loss to the Eagles.
Observe Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.