Week 14 of the 2022 NFL season already got off to a fascinating start, as the Baker Mayfield-led (!) Los Angeles Rams staged a comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.
We've got a fascinating slate of games ahead on Sunday and Monday, and there will surely be even more interesting football played. That's why we're here once again with our usual list of bold predictions.
Lions and Vikings dent the scoreboard
There have been 11 games so far this season where the two teams have combined for at least 70 points. The Lions have been involved in two of those games, including the highest-scoring game of the year (a 48-45 loss to the Seahawks). Detroit ranks seventh in scoring offense and dead last in scoring defense, while Minnesota checks in 10th and 22nd, respectively. Given the relative strengths and weaknesses of each unit, this game is set to go off -- especially since it will be played at Ford Field, which has become the NFL's equivalent of Coors Field. Justin Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Dalvin Cook, D'Andre Swift, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, the T.J. Hockenson revenge game... there will be points. Lots of them.
Bills get revenge on Jets
Back in Week 9, the Bills had their worst offensive performance of the year, totaling a season-low 317 yards, a season-low 19 first downs, and a season-low 17 points in a loss to the Jets. Josh Allen averaged a season-low 3.38 adjusted yards per attempt and registered a season-low 46.8 quarterback rating, and for the only time this season, did not throw a touchdown pass. He also took a season-high five sacks for a season-high 22 lost yards. And he was intercepted twice. Jets quarterback Zach Wilson also played arguably his best game of the season, completing 18 of 25 passes for 154 yards and a score, without being intercepted. Last year in this matchup, though, the Mike White Show came to an abrupt halt against Buffalo, as he went only 24 of 44 for 251 yards and four picks. We're not necessarily predicting a repeat of White's performance from last season, but we're also definitely not predicting a repeat of Allen's performance from earlier this year. The Bills are the better team, and even if the Jets defense is able to hold Allen largely in check, Buffalo is still coming away with a victory here.
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Cowboys rack up double-digit sacks vs. Texans
So far this season, the single-game high in sacks is nine. It was reached by the Patriots back in Week 9 against the Colts, and the Eagles all the way back in Week 3 against the Commanders. The Cowboys are topping that this week against the Texans, and in the process becoming the first team since 2019 (and only 57th team in the Super Bowl era) to record double-digit sacks in a game. Dallas leads the NFL in sacks behind Dan Quinn's ferocious pass rush, and the Texans have yielded a sack on 7.5% of their dropbacks so far this season. With both Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins likely to miss this game for Houston, Davis Mills won't have anywhere to go with the ball. Not that he'd necessarily have enough time with Micah Parsons, Demarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler, Sam Williams, and more bearing down on him anyway.
49ers win in Brock Purdy's first start
The Buccaneers may have secured a comeback win on Monday night against the Saints, but they'll have no such luck against the 49ers. No, San Francisco will not have its starting quarterback. Or even its backup quarterback. Both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo are no longer able to take the field. Brock Purdy looked fine against the Dolphins last week, and Kyle Shanahan will scheme him into success again here. But more importantly, the Niners defense seems highly likely to hold this Bucs offense in check. It just shut down one of the league's best units (the Dolphins -- more on them below) last week; and the Bucs offense is no longer one of the league's best units. The 49ers defensive line has an advantageous matchup up front, and the coverage unit is well-equipped to take away the deep passes Tampa's offense is built around.
Dolphins win Take Bowl I
Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will forever be connected because of where they were selected in the same draft. We're into the third year of their careers now, and there is nothing that the talking heads love more than a good ole Tua vs. Herbert take. That's why this Chargers vs. Dolphins game should be considered the Take Bowl. And the Dolphins are going to win it.
Sure, the Dolphins got shut down by the Niners last week. But the Chargers defense is not the 49ers defense. They don't have the same caliber of pass rush. They don't have the same caliber of coverage players. And they especially don't have the same caliber of run defense. Miami's offense gets back on track in a big way on Sunday night, with Tua Tagovailoa looking much more like the quarterback he has been for most of this season, and both Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert getting things going on the ground. Even with both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in the lineup for a full game for the first time this season, the Chargers won't have enough to keep up with Miami in the Tua vs. Herbert every TV and radio personality is salivating over.