In one of the season's best Thursday night matchups, the 10-2 Arizona Cardinals will host the 8-4 Minnesota Vikings in a crucial NFC tilt. The Vikings are embroiled in a battle with the Green Bay Packers (8-4) for the NFC North title.
The Vikes didn't do much to help their own cause last week.
Just three days after the Packers won 27-23 on an amazing Hail Mary on the road against the Detroit Lions, the Vikings were smashed 38-7 at home by the Seattle Seahawks. Superstar running back Adrian Peterson was none too pleased with the way the team lost. Per Michael Silver of NFL.com, Peterson said the Vikings were "outcoached."
Per ESPN.com's Ben Goessling, Peterson didn't back down from his comments when asked on Tuesday, however, he did add that he felt there was more he could have done to help the team:
I addressed how I felt about the situation. That was it. To me, it's like, I go back and I remember saying this on Sunday, too, but I go back through run plays. We had a kick play that's designed to go outside. I cut it back in. I look at that play and I could have took that to the house. That changed the outcome of the game.
In the loss, Peterson had just eight carries for 16 yards. Thus, it's no surprise he seemed a bit peeved after the defeat. The Vikings will need him to play a much bigger role if they hope to knock off the red-hot Cardinals on the road.
Peterson must be effective in the run game to keep Carson Palmer and the Cardinals' explosive offense on the sidelines. Heading into Week 14, Arizona has scored a league-high 382 points, per ESPN.com.
There's no way the Vikings can win a shootout on Thursday night. Per stats from ESPN.com, Peterson has had 19 or more carries in all eight of the Vikings' wins this season. That's no coincidence.
The team is at its best when Peterson has the ball in his hands.
Here's a look at the entire Week 14 schedule with viewing information. Just below the table is a link to the coverage map as well.
|NFL 2015 Week 14 Schedule and Viewing Information|
|Thursday Night Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Location|
|Minnesota||Arizona||8:25 PM||NFL||U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale|
|Sunday Matchups||Time (ET)||TV||Location|
|Buffalo||Philadelphia||1 p.m.||CBS||Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia|
|San Francisco||Cleveland||1 p.m.||FOX||FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland|
|Detroit||St. Louis||1 p.m.||FOX||Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis|
|New Orleans||Tampa Bay||1 p.m.||FOX||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa|
|Tennessee||New York||1 p.m.||CBS||MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford|
|Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||1 p.m.||CBS||Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati|
|Indianapolis||Jacksonville||1 p.m.||CBS||EverBank Field, Jacksonville|
|San Diego||Kansas City||1 p.m.||CBS||Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City|
|Washington||Chicago||1 p.m.||FOX||Soldier Field, Chicago|
|Atlanta||Carolina||1 p.m.||FOX||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte|
|Seattle||Baltimore||1 p.m.||FOX||M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore|
|Oakland||Denver||4:05 p.m.||CBS||Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver|
|Dallas||Green Bay||4:25 p.m.||FOX||Lambeau Field, Green Bay|
|New England||Houston||8:30 p.m.||NBC||NRG Stadium, Houston|
|Monday Night Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Location|
|New York||Miami||8:30 p.m.||ESPN||Sun Life Stadium, Miami|
|Schedule per ESPN.com|
Patriots Looking to Stop Their Skid on Sunday Night
For the first time since 2012, the New England Patriots have lost two games in a row, per ESPN.com. The team hasn't lost three or more consecutively since the 2002 season when it dropped four straight.
After losing an overtime thriller to the Denver Broncos in Week 12, the Pats lost 35-28 at home to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13.
While the Patriots had to deal with key losses to tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Julian Edelman and more, it was still a shock to see them lose to Philly—it was even more of a surprise the defeat came at home.
Per Phil Perry of Comcast SportsNet New England, Gronk and Edelman missed practice on Wednesday.
That likely means both will be out again this week.
Tom Brady and Co. must find a way to win short-handed against an opponent that should prove to be even tougher than their last.
The 6-6 Houston Texans are tied for first place in the AFC South. Prior to losing 30-21 on the road against the Buffalo Bills last week, the Texans had won four games in a row.
That streak included a win over the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. They've been finding success on the strength of a defense that has allowed just 13 points per game in its last five contests, per stats from ESPN.com.
J.J. Watt and the rest of the Texans defense will be looking to induce another struggle face from Brady like the one he's sporting in the image above.
Entirely Different 5-7 Scenarios
It won't take more than nine wins to capture the NFC East title. That number can only happen if one of the three teams currently tied for the lead wins their remaining four games.
At 5-7, the New York Giants—losers of three straight—are right in the mix. The G-Men lost a tough one last week to the New York Jets 23-20. In the process, head coach Tom Coughlin and his crew squandered an opportunity to move ahead of Washington in the division standings. The Eagles' unexpected win in New England drew them even as well.
New York has to find a rhythm soon. If it can't take advantage of the rest of the division's futility, it'll only make this season more disappointing than it already has been.
On Monday night, the Giants are on the road against the Miami Dolphins. While the Fins have the same record as the Giants, their playoff hopes aren't nearly as plausible.
Miami is mathematically eliminated from contention in the AFC East. It is only two games behind the teams currently vying for wild-card spots in the conference; however, with an 0-5 record in their division and a 3-6 mark in the conference, the Dolphins aren't sitting pretty when it comes to tiebreakers.
If nothing else, they can attempt to play spoiler in this matchup of underachieving teams.