Five quick takes looking ahead to week 14 in the NFL:
1. The 10-2 Kansas City Chiefs face their first big test without Kareem Hunt when they host the 7-5 Baltimore Ravens Sunday. The Chiefs routed the Raiders last week without Hunt, but the Raiders weren’t really a test. The Ravens have won three in a row with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, but he will have a tough time winning a duel with Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs also can’t get caught looking ahead to Thursday night’s critical division showdown against the Chargers, who figure to beat the Bengals Sunday to boost their record to 10-3.
2. The defending champion Eagles face the Cowboys for the second time in five games and need a victory to stay alive in the NFC East race. The Eagles, who lost at Dallas 27-20 on Nov. 11, would virtually be eliminated from the division race if they get swept by the Cowboys. That would give the Cowboys, who are currently 7-5, the tie-breaker and a two game lead against the 6-6 Eagles. The Cowboys are coming off a stunning 13-10 victory against New Orleans last week and seem to be in the process of saving Jason Garrett’s job. He’ll survive if the Cowboys win the division title.
3. The Los Angeles Rams are currently the top seed in the NFC at 11-1 but face a challenge in Soldier Field in Chicago Sunday night against the 8-4 Bears, who are leading the NFC North. The Bears suffered a surprising 30-27 overtime loss to the Giants last week. The game will feature an interesting duel between Jared Golf of the Rams and Mitch Tribusky of the Bears, who is still trying to show the Bears didn’t make a mistake in taking him over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the draft year ago. Tribusky missed the last two games with a shoulder injury and the Bears went 1-1 with Chase Daniel at quarterback but Tribusky is ready to return this week.
4. Two surprising teams with similar records – the 6-5-1 Minnesota Vikings and the 7-5 Seattle Seahawks – will meet in Seattle Monday night. The Vikings are surprising because they thought they would be doing better after luring Kirk Cousins from Washington with a huge contract while the Seahawks are a surprise because they were supposed to be in a rebuilding phase, but are still in the hunt for a wild card playoff spot.
5. In a game between two of the most disappointing teams in the league, the 4-8 Falcons will visit the 4-7-1 Packers. Both teams have coaching issues. The Packers will be playing their first game after firing Mike McCarthy with four games left in his 13thseason. Joe Philbin will fill in as interim head coach. For the Falcons, Dan Quinn, who has never lived down 28-3, is fighting for his job so there is more at stake for the Falcons if they want to try to save Quinn’s job.