NFL this week

2013-12-08T00:00:00Z NFL this week Arizona Daily Star
December 08, 2013 12:00 am

Colts (8-4) at Bengals (8-4)

11 a.m. • Ch 13 • Line: Bengals by 6.5

The Colts can clinch the AFC South with a win or a Titans loss at Denver. Colts linebacker Robert Mathis leads the NFL with 15½ sacks and needs one to surpass Dwight Freeney (16 in 2004) for the club record. Cincinnati is 5-0 at home for the first time since 1988, when the Bengals won all eight regular-season home games and two playoff games before falling to San Francisco in the Super Bowl. Andy Dalton has thrown for 3,144 yards, joining Peyton Manning as the only players to throw for 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Lions (7-5) at Eagles (7-5)

11 a.m. • Ch 11 • Line: Eagles by 3

The Eagles finally have figured out how to win at home, and the Lions are 3-3 on the road, pretty good for them. Philadelphia’s Nick Foles has 19 touchdown passes without an interception, one short of the league mark Peyton Manning set earlier this season. Both teams are getting better performances from their defenses, and the side that produces the strongest pass rush at the Linc will have an edge.

Rams (5-7) at Cardinals (7-5)

2:25 p.m. • Ch 11 • Line: Cards by 6

The Cardinals have not won an NFC West game (0-3) and need to start now because they also face the Seahawks and Niners this month. They have lost eight straight against NFC West foes since last year’s season-opening win over Seattle. In contrast, the Rams have won all three meetings with Arizona under coach Jeff Fisher, including a victory to begin the season. In that game, St. Louis DE Robert Quinn had three sacks, two forced fumbles and four QB hits.

Panthers (9-3) at Saints (9-3)

6:30 p.m. • Ch 4 • Line: Saints by 3

Both team finished 7-9 last year, when the Saints were in the midst of the bounty scandal punishments. They’ve been on top of the NFC South all year, but were caught last week when they flopped in Seattle and the Panthers won their eighth straight, beating Tampa Bay. “Yeah, it is a big game,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “You don’t really have to add much sugar to this one.”

Chiefs (9-3) at Redskins (3-9)

11 a.m. • Line: Chiefs by 3

Kansas City is the first team in NFL history to win its first nine games and then lose the next three. The defense has been weakened by injuries and has just two sacks in the past five games after 35 sacks in the first seven. Already out of the playoff race after winning the NFC East in 2012, Washington has dropped four straight and five of six.

Browns (4-8) at Patriots (9-3)

11 a.m. • Line: Patriots by 10

More woes for the Browns, who go into Foxborough with their quarterback situation in flux. But WR Josh Gordon set a franchise single-game record of 261 yards receiving last week on 10 catches with two TDs one game after setting the previous record of 237 yards. He’s the first player in NFL history with consecutive 200-plus yards receiving games. New England grabs the AFC East with a victory and a Miami loss or tie, or a tie and a Miami defeat. It gets a playoff berth with a win and a Baltimore loss or tie, or a tie and a Baltimore loss.

Dolphins (6-6) at Steelers (5-7)

11 a.m. • Line: Steelers by 3.5

Miami must hope for better weather than in 2007, when it fell 3-0 in a near monsoon. The Steelers have won each of the past five meetings and haven’t lost to Miami at home since 1990. Dolphins WR Mike Wallace spent four seasons in Pittsburgh before signing a $60 million deal with Miami. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 by the NFL this week for interfering with a kickoff return by Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving night.

Vikings (3-8-1) at Ravens (6-6)

11 a.m. • Line: Ravens by 6

Baltimore controls the final AFC wild-card berth and finishes off a three-game homestand in which it is 2-0. With a victory, Baltimore will improve to 6-1 at home and have its first three-game winning streak of the season. The Ravens are allowing 12.3 points a game at home, second best in the NFL behind Carolina. 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson, who ran for 211 yards last week, has 1,208 for this season.

Falcons (3-9) at Packers (5-6-1)

11 a.m. • Line: Packers by 3.5

The Packers are 0-2-1 in the past three at Lambeau Field, all without Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has won 12 straight regular-season games at Lambeau played Dec. 1 or later, however. Atlanta’s collapse is the most shocking in the league as injuries ravaged the roster. The Falcons haven’t quit, and they beat Buffalo in Toronto last Sunday in overtime to snap a five-game slide.

Bills (4-8) at Buccaneers (3-9)

11 a.m. • Line: Buccaneers by 2.5

The Bills are on the verge of a 14th consecutive season out of the playoffs. This is their ninth trip to Tampa in 10 meetings with the Bucs. It’s a reunion of sorts on both sides. Bucs coach Greg Schiano and Bills coach Doug Marrone faced each other three times while leading Rutgers and Syracuse, respectively, in the Big East, with Marrone holding a 2-1 edge. Rookie quarterbacks E.J. Manuel (Bills) and Mike Glennon (Bucs) are Virginia natives who’ve known one another since high school and faced each other in college.

Raiders (4-8) at Jets (5-7)

11 a.m. • Line: Jets by 3

Oh, for the days of Joe Namath and Ben Davidson. Maybe the most interesting aspect here is whether Rex Ryan and/or Dennis Allen can save their coaching jobs with late-season turnarounds.

Titans (5-7) at Broncos (10-2)

2:05 p.m. • Line: Broncos by 12

Denver gets a playoff berth with a win or tie or either Miami or Baltimore losing or tying. The weather forecast is for very chilly conditions in the Mile High City, and Peyton Manning is no winter wizard. Manning has an 8-11 career record when the game-time temperature is 40 or below. Tennessee defensive tackle Jurrell Casey leads the AFC players at his position with eight sacks.

Seahawks (11-1) at 49ers (8-4)

2:25 p.m. • Line: 49ers by 2.5

If there’s a more physical rivalry in the league right now, show us. These two defenses don’t let up, and the animosity is evident everywhere on the field — and on the sidelines, where Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Harbaugh have a long-standing feud. Makes for a juicy affair at Candlestick in a game far more critical to San Francisco’s playoff prospects. “It’s a new game, another Sunday,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said.

Giants (5-7) at Chargers (5-7)

2:25 p.m. • Line: Chargers by 3.5

Eli Manning vs. Philip Rivers, the quarterbacks dealt for each other on draft day in 2004. Manning is 0-2 vs. the Chargers, but one loss came when Drew Brees was the San Diego starter. Both teams are on the fringe of contention and the loser will virtually be out. That New York is still around after starting 0-6 is stunning. That San Diego still can think about the postseason after losing four of the past five also is stunning.

Cowboys (7-5) at Bears (6-6)

6:40 p.m. Monday • ESPN •

Line: Even

At Soldier Field, regular quarterback Jay Cutler’s absence has not been a major hurdle because Josh McCown has played well. The Bears’ defense is another story, more like Lilliputians of the Loop than Monsters of the Midway. The Cowboys couldn’t be more unpredictable, but one thing they can do is throw the ball. Tony Romo (3,140 yards passing) hit the 3,000 mark for a team-record sixth time. He has at least 300 yards passing in all three games against Chicago, but also threw five interceptions against the Bears last year.

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