The push for the playoffs becomes urgent as the NFL schedule rolls into Week 14.
Denver (8-4) at Indianapolis (12-0)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Colts -7 Total: 44
Facts: Denver DE Elvis Dumervil has a league-best 15 sacks, all on grass. This will be his second game on artificial turf. Colts DE Dwight Freeney is third with 10 sacks, 6 on turf. … Indy has allowed the second-fewest points all season (201) and Denver is third, allowing 202. … In Indianapolis’ 27-17 victory over Tennessee last week, the Titans had three drives on which they penetrated the Colts’ 15. They came away with three points.
Analysis: Last week was the first time in a month Peyton Manning didn’t have to rally Indy from behind. On this fast track, Colts WRs Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie should leave the Broncos’ old secondary gasping.
Forecast: Colts 31, Broncos 17
Cincinnati (9-3) at Minnesota (10-2)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Vikings -7 Total: 43 1/2
TV: CBS (8) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
Facts: The Vikings won in Weeks 11 and 12, allowing a total of 47 yards rushing. Arizona got 113 against them in Minnesota’s 30-17 loss last week. … The Bengals haven’t won at Minnesota in four tries. … Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has only three 100-yard games this year, with two coming against Cleveland and Detroit. The most anyone gained against Cincinnati the past eight weeks has been 75 yards, by the Lions’ Kevin Smith last week.
Analysis: The Vikings’ Achilles’ heel might be when Brett Favre has to face top pass-rushing teams. Pittsburgh entered the week No. 2 in sacks and Arizona was tied for No. 3, the only two clubs to beat Minnesota. Cincinnati’s unit is ninth with 29 sacks.
Forecast: Bengals 23, Vikings 20
New York Jets (6-6) at Tampa Bay (1-11)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Jets -3 Total: 37
Weather: Mid-70s, 30 percent chance of rain
Facts: For the third straight week, Tampa Bay faces a scrub QB, this time Kellen Clemens in place of reluctant benchee Mark Sanchez (knee). The Bucs previously tangled with Falcons reliever Chris Redman and Carolina’s Matt Moore, losing both times. … In 1985, Tampa Bay lost 62-26 to the Jets, one week after the Bucs beat the Cardinals 16-0. That’s the most points any team ever gave up after a shut out. … Jets RB Thomas Jones has averaged 112 yards rushing his past six games.
Analysis: Just because the Bucs are facing yet another backup, it doesn’t necessarily give them an edge, especially since Josh Freeman is the league’s 28th-ranked passer and going against a Jets team that has allowed the fewest TD passes (seven).
Forecast: Jets 24, Buccaneers 7
Buffalo (4-8) at Kansas City (3-9)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Pick Total: 37 1/2
Weather: Mid-40s, 10 percent chance of rain
Facts: Last year’s meeting, a 54-31 Buffalo victory at Arrowhead Stadium, was the league’s third-highest scoring game of the season. The Bills were outgained 462-444 but had a plus-5 turnover edge. … In the Chiefs’ past three games, they are yielding an alarming 451 yards a game. Over the course of a full season, that would break the futility mark of 450 set in 1950 by the Baltimore Colts.
Analysis: Buffalo’s pass defense hasn’t feasted only on meatballs, having faced No. 1 Drew Brees, No. 7 Matt Schaub and No. 9 Tom Brady. Matt Cassel, the third-worst QB originally scheduled to start Sunday, had a career-worst rating last week.
Forecast: Bills 21, Chiefs 13
Green Bay (8-4) at Chicago (5-7)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Packers -3 Total: 41
Weather: Mid-30s, 30 percent chance of snow
Facts: Green Bay’s defense has vaulted to first overall since losing to Tampa Bay in Week 9 and winning four straight. … Bears QB Jay Cutler has 20 thrown interceptions, tied for most in the league, with four coming in a season-opening 21-15 loss to the host Packers. The most by anyone last season was Brett Favre with 22.
Analysis: Green Bay still leads the NFL with 45 sacks allowed, including four by Chicago in Week 1. But the Packers have yielded only four the past three games, a great help to QB Aaron Rodgers.
Forecast: Packers 30, Bears 17
New Orleans (12-0) at Atlanta (6-6)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Saints -10 Total: 50
TV: Fox (5) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
Facts: New Orleans’ Drew Brees is on pace for the fifth-highest passer rating in history (111.3). Atlanta’s defensive rating, meanwhile, is the fourth worst in the league at 96.0. … The Falcons’ only TD under backup QB Chris Redman last week against Philadelphia was on a garbage-time 99-yard drive that finished the game. … Washington scored 30 points against the Saints last week in an overtime loss, the most the Redskins have had since 2007.
Analysis: With Atlanta QB Matt Ryan (questionable, turf toe) missing practice, it appears Redman will get his second straight start. It’s a surprise the spread isn’t higher than 10, considering RB Michael Turner is questionable (ankle).
Forecast: Saints 38, Falcons 10
Detroit (2-10) at Baltimore (6-6)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Ravens -13 1/2 Total: 39 1/2
Weather: Low 40s, 40 percent chance of rain
Facts: Lions QB Matthew Stafford is scheduled to rest his ailing shoulder, so Daunte Culpepper gets the start. In his only full game this season, a 28-20 home loss to Pittsburgh, he was dragged down seven times and had three fumbles. … Baltimore no longer controls its playoff destiny, but is the only team that finishes with four straight games against teams that currently have losing records.
Analysis: Culpepper stands tall in the pocket, but usually for too long without protecting the ball. And with the Lions likely playing from behind, an aggressive Ravens defense should have a chance to make plays.
Forecast: Ravens 34, Lions 14
Miami (6-6) at Jacksonville (7-5)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Jaguars -2 1/2 Total: 44
Weather: Low 70s, 50 percent chance of rain
Facts: Ten seasons ago, in the divisional playoffs, the Jaguars beat the Dolphins 62-7 in Dan Marino’s final game, the second greatest postseason rout in history. … QB David Garrard and Jacksonville are 0-4 against the line this year as a home favorite. … Miami “outplayed” New England 80-54 in offensive snaps last week in a 22-21 victory, a stunning turnaround for the Patriots, who entered with the greatest plus differential in the league.
Analysis: Both teams have stout running games, with the Jags’ Maurice Jones-Drew (probable, knee) and the Dolphins’ Ricky Williams. But Miami QB Chad Henne will have more time to think against the NFL’s worst pass-rushing team.
Forecast: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 21
Carolina (5-7) at New England (7-5)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Patriots -13 1/2 Total: 44
Weather: Mid-40s, 10 percent chance of rain
Facts: No more body parts were added to the injury report for Patriots QB Tom Brady (probable), who’s listed with finger, shoulder and rib ailments. He practiced Friday. … Carolina beat the Patriots 27-17 in their last meeting, in 2005. The Pats then won 17 straight against nonconference foes until losing in New Orleans two weeks ago. … A Panthers loss would make them the only NFC team to go 0-4 against AFC foes this year. Last year they were the only team to go 4-0.
Analysis: This is a head-on collision between the NFL’s best ground attack the past two years (Carolina 44 rushing TDs in 2008 and 2009) against the Patriots’ run defense. No team has given up fewer rushing TDs than the Patriots’ 11 in that span. So, this point spread is too high.
Forecast: Patriots 19, Panthers 14
Seattle (5-7) at Houston (5-7)
Time: 10 a.m. Line: Texans -6 1/2 Total: 44 1/2
Weather: Low 70s, 10 percent chance of rain.
Facts: Houston RB Steve Slaton, who had 1,282 rushing yards last year, is out with neck issues. Ryan Moats is expected to handle the load. In Buffalo in Week 8, he rushed for 126 yards and three fourth-quarter TDs. … Houston QB Matt Schaub, No. 7 on the passer charts, is probable but will wear a brace to support his nonthrowing shoulder that was hurt last week at Jacksonville. Rex Grossman would be his fill-in.
Analysis: Seattle was fortunate to escape with a 20-17 victory against San Francisco last week, considering it had minus-6 yards on its first four series and also held the 49ers on downs early at the 1. Now that the playoff pressure is off, the Texans can play like champs again.
Forecast: Texans 28, Seahawks 14
St. Louis (1-11) at Tennessee (5-7)
Time: 1:05 p.m. Line: Titans -13 Total: 41 1/2
Weather: Low 50s, 20 percent chance of rain
Facts: Titans QB Vince Young, 5-1 as a starter, couldn’t finish drills Thursday and didn’t practice Friday (questionable, knee). Kerry Collins, 0-6 as a starter, is on deck. St. Louis will give Kyle Boller his fifth start. … Tennessee RB Chris Johnson, averaging 125.8 yards a game, is on pace to reach 2,012 yards, the fourth-best total in history. … St. Louis RB Steven Jackson, the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,232 yards, is probable (back).
Analysis: In only one of Boller’s starts did he lead the Rams on a TD drive. Not even last week against a Bears defense that caved in seven days earlier when it gave up a colossal 537 yards and 36 points to the Vikings.
Forecast: Titans 26, Rams 6
Washington (3-9) at Oakland (4-8)
Time: 1:05 p.m. Line: Redskins -1 Total: 37 1/2
Weather: Mid 50s, 40 percent chance of rain.
Facts: Graham Gano, who hit the winning FG for Las Vegas in the UFL title game two weeks ago, takes over after the Redskins fired kicker Shaun Suisham after he missed a 23-yard FG try against New Orleans on Sunday. … Over the past eight weeks, Oakland has had the two biggest upset victories of the decade, beating Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as 14-point underdogs. … Utah alum Quinton Gather is the new RB starter for Washington. He was unemployed earlier this season.
Analysis: In addition to last week’s 27-24 victory at Pittsburgh, Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski also led a victory over Cincinnati as a 9-point underdog, so apparently he’s not a fluke.
Forecast: Raiders 26, Redskins 20
San Diego (9-3) at Dallas (8-4)
Time: 1:15 p.m. Line: Cowboys -3 Total: 48 1/2
TV: CBS (8) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
Weather: Mid-60s, 10 percent chance of rain.
Facts: Chargers QB Philip Rivers has had a passer rating of more than 130 in three of his past four games to climb from No. 10 to third on the charts. …. Although Dallas lost 31-24 to the Giants last week, New York couldn’t get the Cowboys’ offense off the field, allowing them to run 31 more plays and get 28 first downs. … San Diego receivers average a league-high 13.7 yards a catch, but its runners are at an NFL-low 3.3 a carry.
Analysis: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been thinking out loud that the team needs to utilize RB Marion Barber more often later in games. With Jones’ hot breath on their necks, the Cowboys will respond with a spirited effort.
Forecast: Cowboys 28, Chargers 21
Philadelphia (8-4) at New York Giants (7-5)
Time: 5:20 p.m. Line: Giants -1 Total: 44
TV: NBC (3) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
Weather: Low 40s, 30 percent chance of rain.
Facts: In their Week 8 meeting, the Eagles gained possession at New York’s 10, 43 and 21 en route to two TDs and a FG in a 40-17 victory. … New York’s 141 rushing yards in that meeting are the most the Eagles have given up all season. The Giants even dominated possession, running 24 more plays than the Eagles. ... New York had lost a league-high six in a row against the line until last week.
Analysis: Their previous meeting was a perfect storm for the Eagles, who were up 13-0 before the Giants ran their fourth play. The killer for the Eagles is they can’t produce running between the tackles.
Forecast: Giants 24, Eagles 14
Arizona (8-4) at San Francisco (5-7)
Time: 5:30 p.m. Line: Cardinals -3 1/2 Total: 44 1/2
TV: ESPN (30) RADIO: KWWN-AM (1100)
Weather: Low 50s, 30 percent chance of rain.
Facts: The 49ers pulled the biggest upset in Week 1 when they won at Arizona, 20-16, as a 5-point underdog. … The cumulative winning percentage of the Cardinals’ remaining foes (15-33, .313) is the lowest for any team. … Two weeks after suffering a head injury, Arizona QB Kurt Warner passed for three TDs and no interceptions in a victory against Minnesota. Not bad for a guy who was concerned about seeing clearly.
Analysis: The wildly erratic 49ers are a lot like the Texans; they seem to function best when little is expected. TE Vernon Davis, tied for the league lead with 10 receiving TDs, should punish the Cardinals’ linebackers in coverage.
Forecast: 49ers 30 Cardinals 24
Last week: 6-10 vs. spread; 9-7 straight up
Season record: 91-96-4 vs. spread; 113-79 straight up