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Week 14 NFL Capsules

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Week 14 NFL capsulesJacksonville Jaguars (8-4) at Cleveland Browns (7-5): Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said the team is preparing for both Trevor Lawrence (ankle) and C.J. Beathard to play for

Week 14 NFL capsules

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) at Cleveland Browns (7-5): Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said the team is preparing for both Trevor Lawrence (ankle) and C.J. Beathard to play for the Jaguars. Lawrence limped through practice Thursday but has a high-ankle sprain and his mobility would be minimal if he tries to play six days after being injured in the Jaguars’ loss to the Bengals. The Browns have allowed the fewest yards per game in the NFL at 260.5, and pass rusher Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward are both playing with shoulder ailments. It’ll likely be Joe Flacco shouldering the load for the Browns at quarterback. He is 1-9 in his past 10 starts but had the Browns driving to take the lead when he threw an interception in Cleveland’s loss at the Rams last week.

Detroit Lions (9-3) at Chicago Bears (4-8): Urgency is being encouraged up and down the Lions’ locker room in the rematch with the Bears, who nearly upset Detroit in the first meeting. The Lions scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes to defeat the Bears 31-26 last month. The Lions subsequently lost to Green Bay and defeated the New Orleans Saints to hold a three-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings and the Packers in the division with five games remaining. They’re nipping at the heels of the Eagles and 49ers in the NFC playoff race, but that push would be deflated by another defeat. Balance is becoming the calling card for the Lions, who are fourth in the NFL in rushing and passing. The Bears haven’t won back-to-back games since 2021.

Carolina Panthers (1-11) at New Orleans Saints (5-7): Two concussions and a rib injury are among the injuries for Saints QB Derek Carr in the past month, and New Orleans weighed turning the offense over to Jameis Winston this week. The Panthers are eliminated from playoff consideration and lost the first meeting to the Saints, 20-17 in Week 2. But New Orleans’ playoff hopes are in peril thanks to three consecutive losses. The Saints were in sole possession of first place in the NFC South before losing to the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago. To remain in the mix, the Saints are in a must-win spot this week. Carolina swept the Saints in 2022.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) at Atlanta Falcons (6-6): Atlanta can accelerate its march toward its first playoff game since 2017 by sweeping Tampa Bay. The Bucs can pull even in the standings with a victory. The Falcons already own a win over the Bucs — 16-13 on Oct. 22 — who understand the gravity of this NFC South game and the stakes the rest of the season. The Falcons are 3-0 in division games but last won the NFC South in their Super Bowl runner-up season (2016). Quarterback Desmond Ridder is 2-0 against Tampa Bay, beating them in the regular-season finale as a rookie and on Younghoe Koo’s 51-yard field goal earlier this season. He said the Falcons left “meat on the bone” in the three-point win at Tampa this season, a game in which Atlanta didn’t have a healthy Bijan Robinson (illness).

Houston Texans (7-5) at New York Jets (4-8): Any faint prayer for the playoffs rests in the hands of Jets QB Zach Wilson, who bounds back up the depth chart from the No. 3 role in the latest spin of the carousel by head coach Robert Saleh. Houston won for the fourth time in five weeks last Sunday, defeating the Denver Broncos 22-17. After facing the Jets, the Texans play three division games in the final four weeks — including two against the last-place Tennessee Titans. Houston and Indianapolis are tied one game behind Jacksonville in the AFC South entering the home stretch. The Texans are firmly in the wild-card mix and jumped into the No. 7 playoff spot in the AFC thanks to Pittsburgh’s loss to New England on Thursday night.

Indianapolis Colts (7-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-6): Pittsburgh’s loss Thursday pushed the Colts into the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Cincinnati has pep in its step on the heels of the historic effort from quarterback Jake Browning at Jacksonville. Making just his second career start after Joe Burrow’s season-ending right wrist surgery. Browning completed 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 22 yards and another score, calmly rallying the Bengals from TD deficits of 7-0, 14-7 and 28-21. The Colts won their fourth consecutive game last week, downing the Titans in overtime, and have the Steelers, Falcons and Raiders left on the schedule before hosting Houston in the Week 18 finale.

Los Angeles Rams (6-6) at Baltimore Ravens (9-3): The Rams answered a three-game losing streak with three wins in a row, scoring 37 points at Arizona and 36 last week to beat Cleveland in their highest outputs of the season. Baltimore has only one loss in the past seven games, thriving behind the No. 1 rushing attack (158.6 yards per game) and No. 2 defense (273.2 yards per game). The Ravens lead the NFL with 22 rushing TDs. Baltimore is coming out of the bye week and 12-3 in that situation under coach John Harbaugh. Rookie RB Kyren Williams keys the Rams’ offense, looking like the missing link the past two games in accounting for 317 total yards and three touchdowns. Rams QB Matthew Stafford has also picked up the pace, throwing seven touchdown passes with just one interception in the past two games.

Minnesota Vikings (6-6) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-7): The Vikings welcome back their best offensive player when they visit the Raiders. All-Pro WR Justin Jefferson missed the past seven games because of a hamstring injury that he sustained Oct. 8. The 24-year-old was off to a terrific start to the season before it was interrupted by injury. He hauled in 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns and had at least 149 receiving yards in three of those five games. Interim Raiders coach Antonio Pierce is 2-2 since taking over for Josh McDaniels, who was fired on Oct. 31. QB Aidan O’Connell is set to make the sixth start of his rookie campaign. The Purdue product has posted a 76.4 passer rating while completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,194 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (9-3): After a 41-35 loss last Thursday at Dallas, the Seahawks face the 49ers for the second time in 17 days. San Francisco won 31-13 at Lumen Field on Thanksgiving night as Christian McCaffrey rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks’ offense got untracked against Dallas, after entering the game with 20 consecutive possessions without a touchdown. Geno Smith threw for 334 yards and three TDs — all to DK Metcalf — and also rushed for a score. But Seattle’s defense allowed 25 or more points for the fourth time in the past five games. The 49ers have won four consecutive games, one shy of their season high. After starting 5-0, they lost three in a row before rebounding following a bye week. Their biggest victory came last Sunday in Philadelphia, when they avenged a defeat in last season’s NFC Championship Game by trouncing the Eagles 42-19, scoring touchdowns on six consecutive possessions. 49ers QB Brock Purdy is 3-0 in his career against the Seahawks, averaging 31 points against the division rival.

Buffalo Bills (6-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): The Bills are making their fifth visit to Kansas City in 34-plus months and sandwiched between playoff disappointments at Arrowhead, Buffalo has won consecutive regular-season games at the raucous road venue. That’s a welcome trend for a team embracing the must-win feel of this game having lost four of its past six games before a bye last week. If the playoffs began today, the Bills aren’t in the postseason picture. For the first time in recent memory there is some doubt about the Chiefs keeping pace with the Bills, who are fifth in the NFL in scoring at 27.3 points per game. The Chiefs suffered losses in three of their past five games and have multiple key injuries to navigate, including the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher Isiah Pacheco (shoulder) and left tackle Donovan Smith (neck stinger). Last Sunday’s 27-19 loss to the host Green Bay Packers marked the fourth time Kansas City scored 21 or fewer points during the five-game stretch. Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 424 yards in an October victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, has been held to 210 or fewer yards in three of the past four games.

Denver Broncos (6-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-7): Los Angeles has no less than five teams to jump over in the season’s final five weeks if it wants to earn an AFC playoff spot. Only the Kansas City Chiefs have a winning record among the Chargers’ final opponents. They have two meetings with Denver, a Thursday night game next week in Las Vegas against the Raiders and a Dec. 23 encounter with the visiting Buffalo Bills. Los Angeles’ defense is going strong behind NFL sack leader Khalil Mack, who has 15 sacks this season, all in the last nine games. Denver saw its five-game winning streak end last week with a 22-17 loss in Houston. The Broncos nearly erased a 16-3 deficit in the third quarter but Russell Wilson tossed his third interception with nine seconds left to deal their playoff chances a major blow.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) at Dallas Cowboys (9-3): With an 0-2 record this season against teams that currently have winning records, the Cowboys still have a lot to prove — and gain — against the Eagles in Arlington, Texas. It will be the 130th meeting in the 63-year rivalry and the stakes could not be higher. Dallas is flying high on a four-game winning streak, while Philadelphia comes to Texas trying to shake off an ugly 23-point home loss to San Francisco. The Eagles are clinging to a one-game lead over the Cowboys in the NFC East and in the race for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers and the Lions are also 9-3. Philadelphia won the first meeting against Dallas 28-23 at home in Week 9. The Eagles also won the signature of free agent linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who agreed to terms with Philadelphia this week after meeting with both teams. Sunday is also a primetime opportunity for quarterbacks Dak Prescott of the Cowboys and Jalen Hurts of the Eagles to perhaps take the lead in the race for NFL Most Valuable Player honors.

Tennessee Titans (4-8) at Miami Dolphins (9-3): Tennessee has two wins since Oct. 1, and the Dolphins have two losses in the same span. The Titans have seven losses in which they scored 16 points or fewer. Miami has a 70-point outing and has put up less than 17 points once in 12 games. The Titans have 20 offensive touchdowns in 2023. The Dolphins have 22 rushing touchdowns and 25 passing touchdowns. The Titans have a healthy Derrick Henry, which gives them a chance to execute a ball-possession plan to limit Miami’s offensive opportunities. Henry was over 100 yards with two touchdowns last week when he was sent to the locker room and didn’t return. Henry insists he’s ready to roll for Monday’s visit to Miami. The Dolphins have won three in a row with 99 total points and have a firm grip on the AFC East.

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at New York Giants (4-8): Tommy DeVito kept the starting QB job even with Tyrod Taylor returning from a rib injury after leading back-to-back wins to give the Giants a reasonable chance to finish with a winning record. New York’s offense isn’t a big-play machine, relying instead on RB Saquon Barkley — 865 yards from scrimmage — and a collection of wide receivers without a lead option since losing TE Darren Waller to a hamstring injury last month. The Packers are a different story with Jordan Love coming up clutch to win three consecutive games, steering Green Bay back into the playoff picture. Green Bay’s third-down offense (44 percent conversions) and the emergence of rookie WR Jayden Reed, one of three Packers’ receivers with five or more TDs, has helped cover in the absence of injured RB Aaron Jones. The Packers last allowed more than 24 points Sept. 28 at Detroit (34-20 loss). The Giants have scored more than 17 points once — 31 at Washington on Nov. 19 — since Sept. 17.