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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 14

If the 2014 season were a plane flight, we as pilots of the plane would begin to see the runway lights as we begin landing. With our tray tables and seat backs in an upright position, we get closer and closer to what I think is the grand destination of every season. . . the playoffs. This Week 14 edition of the Student of the Game’s NFL Match-Up will be your air traffic controller guiding you in through the final approach.

Steelers v. Bengals

At 7-4 all across the board as of Week 12 within the division, the truth is that even if the AFC North acquires both Wild Card spots in the conference, someone who was 7-4 after eleven games will need to buy a 60 inch TV in order to assure a quality post season experience.

As these particular squads go, we’ve no idea what to expect from either side. Both boast defenses that can do the job despite different adversities faced from injuries. However, both offenses have quarterbacks capable of great games and bad games with a top level wide receiver to keep the game competitive.

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Which primary target flourishes, be it the Bengals’ AJ Green or the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, will decide the game’s outcome. Normally I wouldn’t put the game on the wide receivers’ shoulders, but the one that draws the most production also draws the most attention in coverages. This works to open up the run game in support which is an area where both teams are formidable in execution.

Because I find Ben Roethlisberger making fewer mistakes than Andy Dalton, I have Pittsburgh, but either team is a candidate to win if they show up and show out.

Ravens v. Dolphins

 While they aren’t in the same division, Miami finds themselves in direct competition with not only the Ravens, but the rest of the AFC North. Should the Dolphins win the day, it directly increases their chance for an AFC Wild Card.

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The key to achieving this is stopping Baltimore running back Justin Forsett. Forcing Forsett to fail flexes Joe Flacco’s flaws as a field general to the forefront. The Ravens need to account for the Phins Cameron Wake on the D-line while the South Beach signal caller Ryan Tannehill will also be tested under duress from his opponent’s intimidating Pro Bowler packed defensive front.

As I see it, the Ravens defense is simply too versatile for Miami and will enable the offense to win a competitive game.

Chiefs v. Cards

Both teams are defensive forces. They work to pound and cover their opponent to allow their offense to win battles of attrition. The one advantage the Chiefs can clearly boast is that their starter Alex Smith is healthy and playing. However, considering the Cheifs have gone 12 games this season without a touchdown pass to a wide receiver, I can’t help but think that Kansas City should be concerned.

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With Michael Floyd and Rookie of the Year candidate, John Brown to spread the defense thin, I believe Arizona stays atop the NFC West while the outlook is grim for Kansas City in their playoff hunt.

Seahawks v. Eagles

After making Thanksgiving palatable for the “12th man” in beating the 49ers, Seattle finds themselves in solid position to control their fate to get into the playoffs. With the Lions, Packers, Cowboys and Eagles in front of them in the conference, the Seahawks still have plenty to fight for to clear their post season path.

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This game comes down to Seattle scaring Mark Sanchez into mistakes. If the Seahawks do that and manage to defend against play action passes that Philadelphia’s offense is notorious for, they only need employ their run game to ground the Eagles. However, I’m not sure they will be able slow the scheme of Head Coach Chip Kelly and his team of 100 plays.

Honorable Mention

Panthers v. Saints

To be clear, I am completely aware of the fact that the most either of these teams have is five wins on their record. The Saints are 5-7 while the Panthers are 3-8-1. The NFC South is so weak this season not only do all four organizations within it deserve a dunce cap, but they’re also in contention for the division crown.

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The winner of the contest is the team most able to take advantage of struggling defenses. Since I know Drew Brees and Mark Ingram are healthy, I got the Saints.

Author Profile

Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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