With only four weeks remaining until the NFL playoffs commence, Week 14's TV schedule is loaded with games full of postseason intrigue.
Of the league's eight divisions, only three feature teams that are locks to finish with the top record. The remaining five are completely up for grabs, and the league has arranged for divisional matchups to dominate the landscape in the final weeks.
Needless to say, this is the time of year NFL fans dream about during the dog days of summer. Almost every game will help shape the playoff picture, including many this upcoming weekend.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch every game on the schedule:
|THU, DEC 5||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION|
|Houston at Jacksonville||8:25 p.m.||NFL||EverBank Field|
|SUN, DEC 8||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION|
|Indianapolis at Cincinnati||1 p.m.||CBS||Paul Brown Stadium|
|Atlanta at Green Bay||1 p.m.||Fox||Lambeau Field|
|Cleveland at New England||1 p.m.||CBS||Gillette Stadium|
|Oakland at NY Jets||1 p.m.||CBS||MetLife Stadium|
|Detroit at Philadelphia||1 p.m.||Fox||Lincoln Financial Field|
|Miami at Pittsburgh||1 p.m.||CBS||Heinz Field|
|Buffalo at Tampa Bay||1 p.m.||CBS||Raymond James Stadium|
|Kansas City at Washington||1 p.m.||CBS||FedEx Field|
|Minnesota at Baltimore||1 p.m.||Fox||M&T Bank Stadium|
|Tennessee at Denver||4:05 p.m.||CBS||Sports Authority Field at Mile High|
|St. Louis at Arizona||4:25 p.m.||Fox||U of Phoenix Stadium|
|NY Giants at San Diego||4:25 p.m.||Fox||Qualcomm Stadium|
|Seattle at San Francisco||4:25 p.m.||Fox||Candlestick Park|
|Carolina at New Orleans||8:30 p.m.||NBC||Mercedes-Benz Superdome|
|MON, DEC 9||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION|
|Dallas at Chicago||8:30 p.m.||ESPN||Soldier Field|
Thursday night's matchup pitting the Houston Texans against the Jacksonville Jaguars is one of the few contests that won't impact the playoff race whatsoever. The only thing this game will decide is where these two bottom-feeders will pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Unless you're a Texans fan, a Jaguars fan (they're out there, folks) or an NFL analyst, you'll likely want to stay as far away from this contest as possible.
Indianapolis will travel to Ohio to take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in what should be a physical contest.
Both teams lead their divisions. The Colts have nearly locked down the AFC South, but the Bengals don't have much wiggle room in the AFC North, with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens just two games back.
Cincinnati's defense is one of the league's best, and Andrew Luck will be under heavy pressure all game long.
Another big game is the battle between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are tied with Dallas for the NFC East lead with a record of 7-5, having won four in row thanks to the hot play of quarterback Nick Foles. He's thrown 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions this year, and he recently received the highest endorsement possible from head coach Chip Kelly, as noted by Fox Sports:
"He's the starting QB for the next 1,000 years here" - Chip Kelly names Nick Foles the Eagles’ quarterback through at least 3013— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 2, 2013
The Lions are coming off a dominant performance against Green Bay, but Jim Schwartz's team hasn't been able to play with consistency all year long. A win on the road against Philly would be a big step in the right direction, and it would ensure the Lions stay atop the NFC North.
On Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Seahawks will take the field at Candlestick Park to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Seattle absolutely wiped the floor with its divisional rival at home in Week 2, and the 49ers will be seeking revenge.
San Francisco is currently the NFC's No. 6 seed, but the Arizona Cardinals and Eagles are both just one game behind, meaning the 49ers don't have any room for error coming down the home stretch.
Sunday's action will be capped off by a game with big-time playoff implications. The New Orleans Saints will host NFC South rival Carolina on Sunday Night Football.
The Panthers have won eight straight games heading into Week 14, which is a franchise record, as the team noted on Twitter:
Carolina extends franchise record winning streak to eight with big victory over Tampa Bay: http://t.co/lPWRmxt3tW— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 2, 2013
Both teams have been clicking on both sides of the ball this year, and you can be sure the contest will be both physical and full of big plays.
Capping off a fantastic week of NFL games, the Dallas Cowboys will take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.
The Bears are still in the hunt for the NFC North divisional crown with a record of 6-6, but this team is limping toward the finish line, having lost its last two games and three of its last four.
Dallas is currently in first place in the highly competitive NFC East, but Philly owns the same record and is pushing hard for that spot. The Cowboys must continue winning to ensure a playoff berth, but the Bears have an offense capable of putting up big totals against Dallas' porous defense.
We've seen some stinkers this year on Monday night, but this upcoming contest shouldn't be one of them.
All in all, Week 14 is shaping up to be a dandy, and the best is yet to come with the playoffs approaching.
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