Fox Sports is airing back to back games in Week 14 in the NFL, including the playoff seeding showdown between Indianapolis and Cincinnati. ESPN is also showing the blockbuster battle between division rivals Carolina and New Orleans. Check out the Week 14.
NOTE: ESPN on Channel 508 airs NFL Countdown Live from 3:00 am - 5:00 am AEST and air Football Sunday on ESPN Radio from 5:00 am to 11:00 am AEST.
Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals
When and Where: Monday December 9, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Coverage: LIVE on Fox Sports 2 (via Foxtel), 5:00 am AEST
The Number three seed bowl. The winner here will claim the number three seed in the AFC. Winning the three seed avoids playing the dangerous Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round and a trip to mile high stadium in the Divisional Playoffs.
The Bengals were impressive in a tough road game in San Diego last week. The Bengals played old school Bengals football. They ran the ball hard and forced turnovers on defense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard rushed for 164 yards for the Bengals and the defense held Philip Rivers to 252 passing yards while forcing three turnovers. The Colts rank 28th in rush defense so don't expect anything less from the ground game from offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. AJ Green should have an interesting match up with physical corner Vontae Davis.
The Colts, despite the win against the Titans, are in shambles offensively at the moment. The offensive line cannot block anything and the loss of Reggie Wayne means the second receiver on the Colts roster is essentially a receiver with no catching ability (Sorry Darrius Heyward-Bey, but not really). Over the past four weeks Andrew Luck has just two touchdowns compared to five interceptions on his way to a 66.7 passer rating. He has been sacked 29 times this season and his coming against a Cincinnati team that has recorded 18 sacks in their last five games. For the Colts to have any chance in this game the offensive line simply must get better.
Watch Out For: Colts linebacker Daniel Adongo. Adongo is a former Super 15 Rugby Union player from Kenya who months ago was asked to join the Colts training camp. From there he learnt the basics, including how to put a helmet on, and has spent the majority of the season on the practice squad. Now the 1.98m giant will get his chance on special teams. He has monster arms and athletic ability, definitely worth a watch.
Final Word and Prediction: The Colts were lucky to escape with a victory against the Titans but this game is different. It is on the road and against a far superior team. The Bengals should walk away easy winners in this game but expect some grit and fight from Andrew Luck.
Bengals 21 - 10
Tennessee Titans @ Denver Broncos
When and Where: Monday December 9, Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, COCoverage: LIVE on Fox Sports 2 (via Foxtel), 8:05 am AEST The Broncos have two things to do in this game. The first is keep winning to secure that number one seed in the AFC to ensure they don't have to travel to Foxboro (it's inevitably going to be Broncos v Patriots in the AFC Championship) and the second is for Peyton Manning to prove that he is fine in cold weather games. There are murmurs around the league and media about Manning's struggles in the cold. The stats don't stack up too heavily against Manning in the cold but a solid game against an impressive Titans secondary should keep people quiet. The Titans rank seventh in the league in passing defense and have only allowed eight touchdown passes this season. The key for the Titans will be through the air. Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to revive Fitzmagic for the Titans to have any chance in this game. The Broncos are ranked 29th in pass defense and allow 284 passing yards a game. Some injuries to key corners have the Broncos very thin at corner. Champ Bailey is finally back but was benched last week after some terrible plays. Tight End Delanie Walker is in serious doubt of playing which is a huge blow to the Titans aerial attack. Watch Out For: Jurrell Casey. The defensive tackle was phenomenal last week against the Colts with two sacks, two tackles for a loss and four hits on the quarterback. Manning releases the ball super fast but with the Titans great secondary play he may have to hang onto the ball a bit longer opening a small window for the impressive Casey. Final Word and Prediction: The Broncos should emerge from the freezing temperatures at Mile High with a mighty high score line despite the Titans best efforts. Broncos by at least ten. Broncos 31 - 14
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
When and Where: Monday December 9, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Coverage: LIVE on ESPN, 12:20 pm AEST
Despite the intense rivalry between the Seahawks and the Niners this game is definitely the game of the week. With these two teams yet to play each other at all this year and a rematch occurring in Carolina in two weeks the NFC South is still up for grabs. The likely winner of that division will most likely finish the season as the number 2 seed.
The Carolina Panthers have been extraordinary the last six weeks. Their defense, despite what Seahawks fans might say, is the best in the NFL. They are ranked sixth in passing defense and second in rushing defense. Facing Drew Brees and Co. will be their toughest ask yet. They managed to shutdown Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski fairly well at home but this time they are playing in Brees' backyard. The atmosphere and noise of the super dome will be challenging for this defense. Cam Newton will only have to look at tape from the Saints loss to Seattle to know what needs to be done on offense.
The Saints key will be in the underneath passing game. As we have just established the Panthers defense is stingy on yardage especially on the ground. Screen and dump passes to Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas will be a necessity for the Saints offense. As always look for Jimmy Graham to have a huge game and prove that he is the best Tight End in the NFL. Rob Ryan, having been destroyed by Russell Wilson, will have an improved game plan to attack Cam Newton the electric Panthers offense.
Watch Out For: Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis have formed the best linebacker duo in the NFL. They have been huge in stopping the run. They have a combined 196 tackles so far this season.
Final Word and Prediction: This game could end up in so many different ways. I see it either being Carolina in a close one or the Saints in a blowout but for some reason I think super Cam and friends will get it done.Carolina 20 - 17