A guide to the best and worst of the NFL slate (and to which fans are stuck with the most of the worst). Maps via 506sports.com.
God bless the NFL Network, which got the Texans-Jaguars Toilet Bowl out of the way on Thursday night and greatly improved the quality of the Sunday afternoon slate. (Thursday Night Football gets repaid next week with Chargers-Broncos.) Here are your Week 14 NFL viewing maps:
Buffalo at Tampa Bay: Six rookie QBs have attempted a pass this season, and so far Mike Glennon and E.J. Manuel have been the best of the mediocre bunch (with Matt McGloin not far behind). That's about all this meaningless game has going for it.
Cleveland at New England: Last week I listed a game where a crappy team played New England as "Unwatchable," but it turned out to be pretty great. Let's see what the Browns can do!
Tennessee at Denver: The Titans close the season with back-to-back games against the Texans and Jaguars, so if they can somehow steal a road win against the Broncos they'll actually be in decent shape to make a playoff push. In the very likely event that they lose, their season is all but done.
Kansas City at Washington: The weather report for D.C. is showing slow and sleet for tomorrow, so expect the Chiefs to come out with an especially risk-averse offensive set, and expect some Redskins fans to completely miss the point and ask why no one has a problem with the name "Chiefs."
Miami at Pittsburgh: It's likely that one of these completely blah teams will make the playoffs; Football Outsiders puts the Dolphins odds at 28.5 percent and the Steelers at 30.9 percent. An ugly year for the AFC.
Oakland at NY Jets: Here's hoping that the Jets—in good times and bad—are never boring (best of luck, Dom).
Indianapolis at Cincinnati: The Colts are the best team in the AFC South, but if they lose this game the division has a decent shot of ending up as one of the worst of all time, by win percentage. The South's other remaining non-division games are Titans-Broncos, Titans-Cardinals, Jaguars-Bills, Texans-Broncos, and Colts-Chiefs; going winless in those match-ups would leave the division with a combined 0.359 winning percentage.
Atlanta at Green Bay: Atlanta has been eliminated and Green Bay is considering leaving Rodgers out for the rest of the season. A disappointing year for two teams that went a combined 24-8 in 2012.
Minnesota at Baltimore: Last season Adrian Peterson averaged 6 yards per carry, but he's regressed to 4.6 in 2013—equivalent to Ray Rice's 2012 output. Rice, on the other hand, has plummeted down to 2.9 yards per carry this season. He's on pace to join a select group of backs who ran for less than three yards per carry with at least 200 attempts in a single season.
Detroit at Philadelphia: The Lions have been the most watchable team in the NFL this season, with eight of their 12 games coming down to the four quarter. The Eagles have come alive in recent weeks, averaging 31 points per game in four straight wins. Both teams sit at 7-5 in closely contested divisions. Watch!
NY Giants at San Diego: The Giants and Chargers, both 5-7, have combined to go 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7 seven times in the last five seasons. At least Giants fans have gotten to enjoy some nice championship runs recently—Chargers fans, not so much.
St. Louis at Arizona: The Rams have played well recently, but as soon as Sam Bradford went down in Week 7 it became clear the real joy of the season would lie in watching Washington implode its way to a high draft pick, owed to St. Louis through the RGIII trade.
Seattle at San Francisco: A major divisional rivalry that's due for a good game (the last three match-ups have gone 29-3, 42-13, and 13-6). A win for the Seahawks would clinch the NFC West, while a win for the 49ers would strengthen their control over the NFC's second wild-card spot.
Who's Getting Screwed?
This week's winner is Ottumwa, Iowa—the "Video Game Capital of the World"—which gets Kansas City at Washington, Atlanta at Green Bay, and St. Louis at Arizona. Towns just a few miles away get to watch Detroit at Philadelphia and Seattle at San Francisco instead, the best games on the Sunday afternoon slate. Southeast Iowa leans toward the Bears. Ottumwans will have to figure out something more exciting to do until Chicago takes on Dallas Monday night.