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The NFL regular season continues to provide a lot of ups-and-downs. Last week, the Washington Football Team pulled a shocking upset against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, proving once again that anything is possible in this league.
Week 14 presents a whole new set of challenges, however. The number of playoff spots has been increased, but the competition for those spots seems as tense as ever.
Below are five NFL games worth monitoring throughout the weekend. Each of the included games brings certain intrigue for its own reason, but all of them should be fun to watch — for one reason or another.
Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET (Noon CT)
Betting Line: Chiefs -7
Breakdown: The Miami Dolphins (8-4) have been fantastic at two things this season: 1) keeping offenses from scoring and 2) creating turnovers. They currently rank No. 2 in points allowed per game (17.7) and are tied for No. 2 in takeaways (21).
Now compare that to the Kansas City Chiefs (11-1), who boast league’s most explosive offense. There are plenty of weapons for reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, and that automatically makes this matchup against the Dolphins intriguing.
The Dolphins have also won seven of their last eight games and are still in the hunt for the NFC East. Plus, who doesn’t want to see rookie Tua Tagovailoa go head-to-head against Mahomes?
Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET (Noon CT)
Betting Line: Cardinals -2.5
Breakdown: The New York Giants (5-7) have been a surprisingly good football team over the last month. After starting the season 0-5, they are currently riding a four-game win streak en route to a 5-7 overall record. In other words, they’re a team on the rise.
The Arizona Cardinals (6-6), on the other hand, are heading in the opposite direction. A 5-2 start has been ruined by losing four of the last five games, but they are still in strong contention for a Wildcard spot — if not more.
Kyler Murray has got to find a way to start running the football again, but it will be tough against the league’s No. 4 ranked run defense, allowing only 96.7 rushing yards per game.
Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders
Time: 3:05 p.m. ET (2:05 p.m. CT)
Betting Line: Colts -3
Breakdown: There is no way the Las Vegas Raiders (7-5) are catching the Chiefs, but a Wildcard spot is certainly within reach. Yes, they almost lost to the winless Jets last Sunday, but maybe the return of Josh Jacobs will prove to make a difference.
The Raiders are certainly going to need the Alabama product, as the Indianapolis Colts (8-4) bring a top-5 defense with them to Las Vegas.
There is also some familiarity taking place in this contest. Philip Rivers spent the vast majority of his playing career in San Diego — and eventually Los Angeles, and he faced off against the Raiders twice a year during that span. He’s familiar with them, and they’re familiar with him.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET (7:20 p.m. CT)
Betting Line: Bills -2
Breakdown: Outside of the Chiefs, these are the two best teams the AFC has to offer — at least from a record standpoint. It could be argued the Buffalo Bills (9-3) are the better team despite a worse record, and them getting this game at home could help them get to 10 wins.
The most exploitable area of this Buffalo team, however, is a run defense giving up 126 yards per game. Unfortunately for the Steelers (11-1), they have struggled to run the ball in recent weeks. That is why they’re currently ranked No. 29 in rushing offense (92.6 yards per game).
Whichever team can find unexpected success in that particular battle could end up being the victor.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET (7:15 p.m. CT)
Betting Line: Ravens -3
Breakdown: The Cleveland Browns (9-3) came out of nowhere last week against the Tennessee Titans. Or least Baker Mayfield did. According to social media and talking heads, he went from struggling game manager to future Hall of Famer over the course of 60 minutes.
The Baltimore Ravens (7-5) were on a three-game skid before a Tuesday night win against the Dallas Cowboys this past week, but there are still issues that need to be addressed. It would be shocking to see this group put up another 294-yard type performance on the ground, especially against Cleveland run defense ranked No. 8.
Either way, the AFC North always plays physical, which should make this a fun contest to watch.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.