Several of the NFL's playoff contenders managed to maintain their recent momentum and are entering Week 14 with a big boost, seeking to continue forging their paths to the postseason with victories.
The wild-card standings in both conferences are log-jammed with talented teams, causing an inevitable increase in the stakes of every game for the remainder of the 2013 campaign.
However, a few in particular will find a way to triumph on Sunday, whether it be fending against a letdown or fighting off a formidable foe.
Before an overview of picks for every contest, here is a look at some of the emerging clubs that will be even more dangerous when they each notch critical wins in Week 14.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) over Detroit Lions (7-5)
Well, it's almost impossible to call what Nick Foles is doing a fluke—even if he just hit the 16 career starts mark, which amounts to one full NFL season.
In nine games in 2013, last year's third-round pick is averaging a whopping 9.14 yards per attempt and has thrown 19 touchdowns with zero interceptions. So Foles isn't checking it down every play. Quite the opposite.
That's why this matchup is so tantalizing. The Eagles are tied atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker before Foles really came into his own.
Detroit is coming off a Thanksgiving trouncing of the Green Bay Packers to ascend to the top of the NFC North, but this road trip will be a massive test.
Matthew Stafford has arguably the most raw arm talent in the NFL, and his top receiver Calvin Johnson is one of the most freakish athletes in the history of the game. Considering both these secondaries are suspect, this could very well turn into a shootout.
In this situation, the edge has to go to the home team. Foles has been flawless, while Stafford has thrown six picks in the past two games. Plus, the Eagles have the edge in the backfield with LeSean McCoy.
Even against the league's third-ranked rush defense, McCoy and Foles should complement each other well, resulting in solid, winning production.
Prediction: Eagles 41, Lions 34
Baltimore Ravens (6-6) over Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1)
Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North last Thursday had to feel good for the defending Super Bowl champions, who have won three of their last four and not lost by more than six points since Week 1.
That's especially impressive considering the running game has been stagnant, the defense is filled with new faces and Joe Flacco isn't playing like a $120.6 million quarterback.
Flacco has already logged a career-high 14 interceptions, but was efficient against the vaunted Steelers and made enough plays for the Ravens to win. ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley points out a silver lining for Flacco's outlook entering Week 14, too:
Now Baltimore has to focus on stopping Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson. What will help is that Minnesota doesn't have a viable QB and won't until 2014.
The Ravens are also tied for fifth in the league with 37 sacks this season, which means they will be able to generate pressure with Terrell Suggs (nine sacks) and Co.
No one gives up more points than the Vikings, so this should be a rather easy victory for the Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium, even with a stellar performance from Peterson.
Prediction: Ravens 26, Vikings 14
Carolina Panthers (9-3) over New Orleans Saints (9-3)
As amazing as Carolina's defense has been playing, a lot of credit needs to go to 2011 No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton.
The third-year signal-caller has been stupendous, morphing himself to another level in 2013 and becoming arguably the truest dual-threat quarterback the NFL has ever seen based on his touchdown production:
Cam Newton is first player in NFL HISTORY with 50+ TD passes, 25+ TD rushes in 3 year span. #Superman— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 2, 2013
Who is likelier to make a Super Bowl run?
It's going to be tough for Drew Brees and the Saints to bounce back from a demoralizing 34-7 loss at Seattle on Monday night—even at home in the Superdome. New Orleans couldn't establish the run on the Seahawks and shouldn't find much success in doing so against the league's No. 2 rush defense.
This is a battle for supremacy and a head-to-head tiebreaker in the NFC South division.
Brees should rally his offense and put on a far better performance than the meager 147 yards he threw for in Week 13, but it won't be enough.
With the physicality Carolina can bring to the ground in Newton, and the human wrecking ball Mike Tolbert, New Orleans is going to be outfought in the trenches and be beaten decisively for the second straight game.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Saints 20
|Away Team||Home Team||Winner|
|Houston Texans||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jaguars|
|Indianapolis Colts||Cincinnati Bengals||Bengals|
|Atlanta Falcons||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|Cleveland Browns||New England Patriots||Patriots|
|Oakland Raiders||New York Jets||Raiders|
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||Eagles|
|Miami Dolphins||Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers|
|Buffalo Bills||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Bills|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Washington Redskins||Chiefs|
|Minnesota Vikings||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|Tennessee Titans||Denver Broncos||Broncos|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||Cardinals|
|New York Giants||San Diego Chargers||Giants|
|Seattle Seahawks||San Francisco 49ers||Seahawks|
|Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||Panthers|
|Dallas Cowboys||Chicago Bears||Bears|
Picks are strictly opinion