Week 14 NFL Preview: Four Games To Go As NFL Enters Final Quarter

wk1brees2It’s Week 14 of the NFL season and only four games remain to decide who advances to the playoffs. And who goes is anyone’s guess as 26 teams remain in contention for a postseason berth.

“You hope to be playing your best football in December,” says head coach KEN WHISENHUNT of the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals, “so that makes these late-season games important.”

Two 12-0 teams have already clinched a playoff spot – the AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts and the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints. It is the first time in NFL history there have been two 12-0 teams in the same season.

Both clubs seek to join select company at 13-0, a feat that only five teams in NFL history have achieved:

New England 2007        16-0 16-0 Lost Super Bowl XLII
Miami 1972        14-0 14-0 Won Super Bowl VII
Indianapolis  2005        13-0 14-2 Lost Divisional Playoff
Denver 1998        13-0 14-2 Won Super Bowl XXXIII
Chicago 1934        13-0 13-0 Lost NFL Championship

The Colts, who defeated Tennessee last week, have won 21 consecutive regular-season games and can pass the 2006-08 New England Patriots (21) for the longest winning streak in NFL history.

“It’s great to be part of something that meaningful,” says Indianapolis cornerback KELVIN HAYDEN. “It just shows the type of character guys we have around here because there’s really not much said about any of that. No one brings it up.”

With a win on Sunday against Denver, the Colts can secure homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

New Orleans improved to 12-0 for the first time in franchise history with a come-from-behind 33-30 overtime victory at Washington. That marked the longest winning streak ever extended by an overtime victory. The win secured the NFC South title for the Saints, who finished in last place in the division a year ago. It is the seventh consecutive season that a team has gone from “worst-to-first” in its division, the longest such streak in NFL history.

“It means a lot to win the division and to do it with a win,” says New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES, who passed for 419 yards in the victory over Washington. “We earned this, we absolutely earned it. It is really just one stepping stone toward our ultimate goal.”

New Orleans trailed 30-20 in the fourth quarter against the Redskins before rallying for 10 points in the final seven minutes to send the game into overtime. The Saints have now won two games this season in which they trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter on the road (Week 7 at Miami). No other team in the NFL has even one such win this year.

“That game was amazing,” says Saints running back PIERRE THOMAS about the team’s comeback win at Washington. “We kept fighting and we never gave up. You could see it in our eyes. When we were down, we had a look that said we weren’t done. Everybody showed that we weren’t finished and the game was not over yet.”

The Saints can clinch a first-round bye this weekend with a win against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Some of the headline games in Week 14:


With a win on Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts can reach two milestones and take a step closer to reaching their ultimate goal of a Super Bowl championship.

The Colts are aiming for their 22nd consecutive regular-season win, which would be the longest streak in NFL history (2006-08 New England, 21 games). A victory would also give the Colts 114 regular-season wins since the start of the 2000 season, the most by a team in a single decade (San Francisco, 113 wins in the 1990s).

“It’s a great accomplishment, but it’s not the goal we set,” says Indianapolis center JEFF SATURDAY. “We wanted to win the division, and we’ve got that. Now we’ve got to get homefield advantage and do something with it.”

That goal of homefield advantage can be achieved this week as a win would give Indianapolis the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Denver enters Week 14 in second place in the AFC West with an 8-4 mark, one game behind the San Diego Chargers. The Broncos rushed for 245 yards in their 44-13 win at Kansas City last week, the highest rushing total by the visiting team in games between these two rivals since 1977.

“My big focus this week is beating them because it’ll mean we’re 9-4,” says Denver head coach JOSH MC DANIELS. “I think that’s the most important thing for me and our team. If it in some way can derail history, then it is what it is.”


Two division leaders meet on Sunday when the Bengals (AFC North) visit the Vikings (NFC North).

Cincinnati is 9-3 and can clinch the AFC North with a victory. The Bengals’s nine victories are an eight-win improvement over their first 12 games last year (1-10-1). That is tied for the largest win improvement through the first 12 games from one season to the next in NFL history (1963 Oakland and 1999 Indianapolis).

The Bengals defeated Detroit last week 23-13 and running back CEDRIC BENSON rushed for 110 yards. He became the third different Bengal to rush for 100 yards in each of the team’s past three games (BERNARD SCOTT & LARRY JOHNSON). The Bengals and the 2006 Green Bay Packers are the only teams to accomplish that in the past 15 years.

At 10-2, Minnesota can clinch a playoff berth with a win and, combined with a Green Bay loss at Chicago, the Vikings would win the NFC North. Minnesota is 6-0 at home this season and quarterback BRETT FAVRE has posted a 119.1 passer rating with 16 touchdowns and just one interception at the Metrodome.

“I’m excited to face him again,” says Bengals quarterback CARSON PALMER, who faced Favre and the Green Bay Packers in 2005. “He’s a guy I grew up watching and I’ve been a fan of his ever since I’ve been a fan of the NFL.”


A key NFC East contest will take place in New York when the 8-4 Eagles visit the 7-5 Giants. Philadelphia and Dallas enter the week tied for first place in the division with New York just one game back.

The Giants knocked off the Cowboys 31-24 last week, highlighted by two big-play touchdowns – a 79-yard punt-return TD by DOMENIK HIXON and a 74-yard TD reception by running back BRANDON JACOBS. It was the first time in 96 regular-season meetings between the two teams that the Giants have scored two 70-yard touchdowns.

New York is looking for payback after the Eagles knocked the NFC East champion Giants out of the playoffs last year.

“This will be a big game,” says New York head coach TOM COUGHLIN. “It’s a division game, against the Eagles, at this time of year. December is such a critical time for all the teams in our league.”

Philadelphia has thrived in December as the Eagles are 12-3 since 2006 during the month. Last week, Philadelphia defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-7, the team’s third consecutive win.

“It’s that time of the year, the last quarter,” says Eagles head coach ANDY REID. “If you’re still in the hunt, things get a little faster, guys play a little faster and so on. That’s the nature of the game. That’s where we’re at. It’s important that we keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing and preparing the way we’ve been preparing. The guys have been very focused the past few weeks.”

The San Diego Chargers, who can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, have won 15 consecutive December games dating back to 2006, the longest streak in NFL history. The previous mark was set by the 1968-1972 Dallas Cowboys, who won 13 games in a row during the month.