NFL Week 14 Preview: Tampa’s Ray-Jay delight and Redskins’ struggles
Dave Burin | 6 December 2018
AFC East title can also be decided this weekend
With the regular season heading into the final three weeks, the Week 14 clashes could see divisional titles won, the Wild Card tussle shift and playoff hopefuls give up the ghost.
Ahead of a huge weekend of games, we check out the main talking points – kicking off with Dirk Koetter’s in-form but unfancied side…
Can Wild Card outsiders Tampa stun Saints at Ray-Jay?
Having failed to make the playoffs in any of the last 10 seasons, you’d be forgiven for assuming Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be ignored in this season’s discussion.
But their recent upturn in form suggests the Bucs could spring a surprise – both this weekend and in the playoff picture.
Opponents New Orleans Saints are almost guaranteed of the NFC South title, and looked unusually lackadaisical during last weekend’s home loss to Dallas Cowboys.
That means there are question marks as they arrive at Raymond James Stadium, especially with the Bucs so strong at home.
They sit one win outside the Wild Card spots, thanks largely to four victories from six at the Ray-Jay. Tampa also scored 48 points en route to victory in New Orleans in September. That’s the highest total the Saints have conceded at home since 2003.
Issues loom over anaemic Redskins offence
Washington Redskins may be 6-6, but they currently have the second-worst offence in the entire NFC. Ahead of the visit of 4-8 divisional rivals New York Giants, can the Redskins’ stand-in Quarterback Colt McCoy rally his troops?
Injury to first-choice Alex Smith has thrust McCoy into the action, but it’s hardly been plain sailing. He suffered three sacks and two interceptions in Dallas, as well as fumbling the ball.
The 32-year-old desperately needs to find his footing, and for the receivers to step up. Only Tight End Jordan Reed (45th) is in the NFL’s top 50 for receiving yards, and the likes of highly-rated Wide Receiver Josh Doctson are in dismal form.
However, the visiting Giants could prove ideal fodder. They’ve conceded 20+ points in every game so far this season, and don’t travel well. After three successive losses, this could be the weekend the Redskins get back on track.
Can evergreen Brady make Patriots contenders once again?
It’s difficult to find anything new to say about 41-year-old Tom Brady. The New England Patriots QB reached his 1,000th career rushing yard at the weekend, and his passing game has been continually excellent this season.
And now it seems the 9-3 Patriots are beginning to turn the screw. Neither of their back-to-back wins against New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings was a thriller, but the Pats were offensively strong and gave just one Touchdown in the process.
Time and again, they’re a side who’ve grown into a season. And victory at Hard Rock Stadium this weekend would clinch the AFC East title. Miami Dolphins are a decent side, but the Pats have won three of the last four head-to-heads.
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