A look ahead to Week 14 in the NFL:
1. The first two picks in the 2016 draft, the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz, meet for the first time Sunday to start what could be a classic rivalry over the next decade. And the stakes are high for both teams with the Eagles at 10-2 and the Rams at 9-3. This is the Eagles’ second game in a row on the West Coast, so they practiced in California after the loss in Seattle rather than fly back to Philadelphia. Wentz and the Eagles’ high-flying offense were held to 10 points in a 24-10 loss to Seattle. Wentz threw an interception and lost a fumble into the end zone in that game and will be looking to bounce back.
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t afford to look ahead to next week’s game against New England when they host the division rival Baltimore Ravens. It is their second game in a row against a division rival and they had to rally to beat Cincinnati. They’re also dealing with the loss of Ryan Shazier, who suffered a spinal injury at Cincinnati and his future is uncertain. And his loss hurts the Steelers defense. The Ravens have clawed back into the playoff race at 7-5 and have a lot at stake, so this figures to be a close game.
3. For the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars, their home game against the Seahawks will be their biggest in a decade. But it’s also important for the Seahawks with both teams at 8-4. This game is all about the quarterbacks. Can the Jaguars defense stop Russell Wilson and will inconsistent Blake Bortles play well enough to get the victory? Bortles played well against the Colts last week, but the Jaguars never know which Bortles will show up. The Jaguars are actually favored and the Seahawks have to travel across country and have the Rams next week. This figures to be a close low scoring game, but Wilson likely will give the Jaguars an edge. The Jaguars lose this game and still win their division by winning their last three. They are currently tied for first with Tennessee at 8-4. The Titans figure to beat the Arizona Cardinals.
4. The AFC West race is a sign of the times. The NFL doesn’t have a lot of good teams and the Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs are tied for the lead at 6-6. The Chiefs have lost six of seven and play and play the Raiders, so the winner will be at least tied for first. The Raiders won the first game in a wild one 31-30 by getting the winning score on an untimed down. The Chiefs are trying to get out of their tailspin. After an 0-4 start, the Chargers have won six of eight and appear to be the best team in the division. They’re favored at home against Washington although they don’t have much of a home field edge since they haven’t exactly been adopted by the Los Angeles fans. But the Chargers figure to win even if half the fans in the stadium are rooting for the Redskins.
5. The Vikings have virtually wrapped up their division and now they’re trying to get the top seed in the NFC as they play the Panthers on the road. The Panthers are still in the race for their division and can tie 9-4 New Orleans with a victory. A loss would drop them into a tie with Atlanta at 8-5. Case Keenum will trying to keep alive his remarkable run that has kept Teddy Bridgewater on the bench. He’s now tied a franchise record with a passer rating of over 100 for four consecutive games. Cam Newton has had problems with the Vikings defense in the past and the Vikings won 22-10 last year.