There are several huge NFL matchups in Week 14. The New England Patriots host the Houston Texans in a playoff preview game, while Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions search for the team's first win at Lambeau Field in over two decades.
There are playoff implications abound as well in these three marquee games. Which team will solidify home-field advantage and which will get back into the hunt with a big Week 14 win?
Take a look at predictions for each of these key matchups.
Houston Texans (11-1) at New England Patriots (9-3)
This is the Monday Night Football matchup that everyone has been waiting for. These two teams will square off at Foxborough in what could potentially be an AFC Championship Game preview.
But what will it take for the Pats to defend its home field against the tough Texans? A huge game from Tom Brady will be necessary. That shouldn’t be too hard with Texans CB Johnathan Joseph set to miss another game.
The Pats are having some injury problems of their own. TE Rob Gronkowski will also miss the game and WR Julian Edelman was placed on season-ending injured reserve. In addition to Joseph, LB Brooks Reed will also miss the game for the Texans.
Injuries aside, both of these teams like to run the football and both are adept at stopping it. If it comes down to a battle inside the tackles, you have to favor Houston’s Arian Foster-led rushing attack. Its zone-blocking scheme poses fits for even the best rush defenses in the league.
Both quarterbacks are also capable of putting their team on their shoulders. Schaub did it in an outstanding comeback win against the Jaguars a couple of weeks ago. Brady does it so often that the Pats probable take it for granted.
With all that in mind, the Pats will come out on top at home. However, things may be different if the Texans can get healthy and shift the venue to Reliant Stadium in the postseason.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Texans 24
Detroit Lions (4-8) at Green Bay Packers (8-4)
Injuries are mounting for the Green Bay Packers, but that hasn’t stopped the team from taking control of the NFC North division. CB Sam Shields, S Charles Woodson and LB Clay Matthews are all out again this week for the Pack.
Wide receiver has begun to become a thin spot for the Lions. Injuries aren’t exactly mounting up for the team, but it has lost Ryan Broyles, Titus Young and Nate Burleson for the season. Young was put on IR because of behavior problems.
The last time the Lions went into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers was on Sunday, Dec. 15, 1991. Barry Sanders was the team’s starting running back and Erik Kramer was behind center.
The odds certainly aren’t in their favor this week.
But counting out Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson isn’t wise. The last time these teams played, in Week 11, Johnson caught five passes for 143 yards with one touchdown. Other than that, though, the Lions struggled. Without Broyles and Young, that will likely happen again.
It will definitely be a close game, but the Packers will get to Stafford (five sacks in last meeting) and keep the Lions’ explosive passing game under wraps.
Prediction: Packers 31, Lions 24
New Orleans Saints (5-7) at New York Giants (7-5)
The New Orleans Saints are hoping to bounce back from Drew Brees’ worst career game in its Week 13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. That loss didn’t kill the team’s playoff chances, but it might as well have. Going into New York and out-dueling the defending champs with its season on the line is not something New Orleans envisioned for Week 14.
The Giants are coming off a disappointing loss to the Robert Griffin III-led Washington Redskins. It was a huge defeat and one that the G-Men will be looking to avenge this week.
A hungry Giants defense could pose problems for Brees. The pass rush of the Giants wreaked havoc on Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago and could pose problems for Brees this week. Atlanta sacked him just once but was able to pressure him into those five interceptions last week.
Offensively, the Saints are just what the doctor ordered for Eli Manning and the Giants. The team scored just 16 points last week against Washington and has been held to under 21 points in three of its last four games.
There’s little doubt that Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz can be contained by the Saints D. Look for Manning to get back on track offensively for a huge performance. New York has only scored 40 or more points twice this season but should be able to hit that plateau again this week.
Prediction: Giants 42, Saints 28