Week 14 of the 2023 NFL season is underway, and we already saw the New England Patriots shockingly improved to 3-10 after a 21-18 road win against a Pittsburgh Steelers team that is fighting for a playoff spot int he AFC. This defeat caused the Steelers to become the first team in the Super Bowl era, since 1966, with a record of multiple games above .500 to lose consecutive games against teams with two or fewer wins entering Week 14. Pittsburgh, now 7-6, lost to the 3-10 Cardinals in Week 13.
Since anything can happen when it comes to the NFL, what's next, you ask? Well, here are five bold predictions for this weekend's Week 14 slate.
The 2021 NFL season feels like a lifetime ago doesn't it? A Rams team that continuously lit draft picks on fire in order to continue to add win-now veterans saw their all-in team-building strategy pay off with a Super Bowl victory at SoFi Stadium over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Much of that Rams team is no longer together, but what is significant about that season here is that it was the last time the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs had a losing streak. A fumble by running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the deciding blow in a 36-35 road loss at the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 that year, and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert tossing a four-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams with 32 seconds left gave the Bolts a 30-24 road win in Week 3 against Kansas City. Those two games make up the last time the Chiefs had back-to-back losses.
But after surrendering a season-high 27 points in Week 13's 27-19 road loss at the Green Bay Packers on "Sunday Night Football," the Chiefs are going to lose again. They have lost three of their last five games since starting 2023 6-1, and Kansas City's offense leads the NFL in drops with 32. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen leads the NFL with 33 total touchdowns this season, passing plus rushing, and the Bills are averaging 33 points per game in the two games since letting go of former offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.
On the flip side, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce hasn't had reached 100 yards receiving in any of his last five games, and his 11 yards per catch in 2023 represent a career low in that department. These Chiefs simply don't have the same firepower in 2023, and it will come back to bite them against a Bills team desperate to get back into the AFC playoff picture after their 6-6 start.
The NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (9-3) are currently only 3-point road favorites at the struggling Chicago Bears (4-8) in Week 14. That line should be even shorter.
In Week 11, Detroit trailed by 12 points with under five minutes left but they rallied and overcame four turnovers, three interceptions by quarterback Jared Goff after trailing 26-14 with 4:15 left in the game. It's the only game Goff has thrown multiple interceptions this season. Bears quarterback Justin Fields balled out with 169 passing yards and a touchdown plus 104 rushing yards.
Week 11 marked Fields' third career 100-yard rushing game against the Lions, the most by any quarterback against any opponent since at least 1950. Chicago is coming off a 12-10 victory against the Vikings in Week 12 -- ending a 12-game NFC North division losing streak -- as well as their Week 13 bye.
A well-rested Fields knocks off a Lions team whose 28.8 points per game allowed ranks as the 31st in the NFL in the last six games. Detroit is also the worst red zone defense in the NFL in that stretch, allowing opponents to score a touchdown on 85% of their red zone drives. Da Bears take care of business at home.
Khalil Mack joins elite club by becoming fourth player all-time with multiple sacks in four straight games
At his peak, Khalil Mack was an absolute game-wrecker, ruining entire game plans with his speed, size and fluidity off the edge. However, the last time he had double-digit sacks in a season was his first year with the Chicago Bears in 2018. Until now.
The 32-year-old opened the first three games of 2023 without a sack, and then a finished one sack away from the NFL single-game record with six against the Raiders in Week 4. Fast forward to today, and Mack leads the NFL with 15 sacks. He is also two sacks of Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson on Sunday away from joining Hall of Famers Reggie White and Kevin Greene as as well as All-Pro Simeon Rice as only the fourth player ever with multiple sacks in four games in a row.
Wilson leads the NFL in completion percentage inside the pocket (75%), so it would make sense for him to stay inside to make most throws on Sunday. That's something Mack can take advantage of in his pass-rush, knowing this is a quarterback whose 3.21 average time to throw is the fourth-longest in the NFL. The 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year rewrites the history books for perhaps one of the last times in his 10-year career.
Jets actually convert on third down despite being historically bad at it
In this nightmare of a season without Aaron Rodgers, the Jets' 23.1% third-down conversion rate is set to be the lowest of any team in a team since the stat was first tracked in 1972. Yikes. Last week, the Texans prevented the Broncos from converting on third down in any of their 11 attempts.
Gang Green is a team that has failed to score more than 13 points in each of their last six games, the longest such streak in team history, and given the Texans' defensive performance last week, one would think there's more takeaways coming after Houston intercepted Russell Wilson three times. There may be some defensive takeaways forced, but the Jets will cross the imaginary yellow line for some much needed confidence in that area.
Baker Mayfield fails to throw a single TD in Atlanta despite great road success this season
Former first overall draft pick Baker Mayfield is now a journeyman quarterback but he has been balling out on the road this season. His 12 passing touchdowns on the road are tied for the second-most in the league, and he's thrown just two picks away from Tampa, with at least one touchdown pass in all six Buccaneers road games so far.
However, Mayfield won't throw one on Sunday.
Atlanta safety Jessie Bates III is having an All-Pro year, becoming the only player in the last 25 seasons with 90+ tackles, 5+ INT and 3+ FF through 12 games. Bates III will make his way to the ball -- he has a knack for that -- and generate multiple turnovers once again, which in turn will prevent Mayfield from getting into the end zone with his arm.