Previewing NFL Week 15

This is one of the strangest weeks of the season as the NFL’s teams head down the stretch.

It’s usually a time for big matchups, and one of the biggest games of the season – Chiefs at Saint —will highlight the weekend.

But it won’t be in prime time, which probably means CBS protected it. It will be the Sunday doubleheader game and CBS won’t show another late afternoon game.

But it is the only game of the weekend in which both games have winning records.

So, the Browns-Giants game was flexed to Sunday night. Steelers-Bengals will be the Monday night game.

—That doesn’t mean some of the losing teams won’t pull upsets the way the Chargers did Thursday night to all but derail the Raiders playoff hopes, but the games don’t tend to be good national attractions. For example, the NFL had two Saturday games since the college season is winding down. But Buffalo-Denver and Carolina-Green Bay didn’t figure to attract big audiences. And they will be shown only on the NFL Network and the home markets of the four teams.

—CBS has five early games with Dallas-San Francisco shown in the western half of the country. Both have losing records so the game was flexed out of Sunday night, but the networks figure Dallas is always a draw. Four other games are sharing the eastern half – Miami-New England, Houston-Indianapolis, Jacksonville-Baltimore and Detroit-Tennessee.

—Hard to believe New England is one of the teams with a losing record at 6-7. A loss to Miami will probably dash their faint wild card playoff hopes. Tom Brady took the dynasty with him when he walked out the door although it didn’t help that Bill Belichick hasn’t made many good personnel moves in recent years and the Patriots face a rebuilding program.

—Fox has five games, all with at least one team having a losing record and one (Minnesota-Chicago) pits two teams with losing records at 6-7. Tampa-Atlanta, Seattle-Washington and Chicago-Minnesota are the early games with the Jets-Rams and Eagles-Cardinals the late games. One of the teams with a losing record, Washington, is actually in first place in the NFC Least at 6-7. Assuming the Football Club loses to Seattle and the Giants lose to Cleveland, Washington and the Giants will be 6-8 and 5-9 and Dallas could creep into the race at 5-9 by beating San Francisco. One of these NFC East teams will host a playoff game and even the Eagles at 4-8-1 aren’t out of it. It is easily the worst division in football.

—The 0-13 Jets and the 1-12 Jaguars figure to lose to the Rams and Ravens so the Jets will continue to lead the Trevor Lawrence Derby.

—So even though the rest of the schedule doesn’t have compelling games, the Saints-Chiefs game with Drew Brees returning to face Patrick Mahomes will be must watch TV since it could be a Super Bowl preview. The Saints have lost on the last play in the playoffs three years in a row and are eager to show they are Super Bowlcontender while the Chiefs are going for the first repeat since New England did it in 2003-2004. Both teams are fighting for the lone top seed and only bye in each conference. The Chiefs are 12-1 with a game lead on 11-2 Pittsburgh while the Saints are tied with Green Bay at 10-3 for top NFC seed.

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