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3 NFL Teams Facing Must-Win Games In Week 14

  • The Draft Network
  • December 10, 2021
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As the NFL calendar continues to inch toward the postseason, the margin for error is disappearing for playoff-hopeful teams that currently find themselves on the ropes. The Minnesota Vikings did themselves a sizable favor by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football, ultimately boosting their chances. In the AFC, the conference's three wild-card spots are held by a trio of 7-5 teams: the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers. All three franchises must proceed with caution, as the 7-6 Indianapolis Colts are on their heels along with an astounding five six-win teams trailing by the slimmest of gaps. 

We've reached the crucial part of the campaign where victories will boost a team's playoff chances significantly, and any given defeat creates a difficult scenario. We've identified three teams who find themselves in "must-win" situations in Week 14.


Current Odds: 23%. Odds with a loss: 6%

The Browns absolutely delighted their rambunctious fan base by qualifying for the playoffs last season for the first time in nearly two decades. Success breeds expectations and the Dawg Pound faithful are hungry for more postseason glory. It's instead been a rather uneven campaign for the Browns, who have underwhelmed while struggling with injuries to various key offensive starters. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has dealt with a painful and difficult shoulder injury, and both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have missed contests. The latest blow was suffered by right tackle Jack Conklin, who is now out for the remainder of the season.

The desperate Browns will host the division-leading Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday. A triumph over their heated rivals would leave plenty of hope going forward, but a defeat would plummet their playoff chances to just 6%. They'll encounter a hungry Ravens squad that will be hell-bent on avenging last week's last-second thrilling defeat to the Steelers. The Browns must bring their A-game if they hope to reign victorious over John Harbaugh's Ravens.


Current Odds: 18%. Odds with a loss: 6%

The 2021 iteration of the Denver Broncos has been a frustrating viewing experience as they've now all but wasted away a perfect and unforeseen 3-0 start. The Broncos managed to lose their next four, and predicting which version of the Broncos will show up on any given week is an impossible task. 

A shocking blowout victory of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 9 was followed up by a stinker against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10. An astounding two-score defeat of their AFC West rival Chargers in Week 12 was followed by a disappointing showing against the Kansas City Chiefs a week ago. Inconsistencies and uneven performances have led Vic Fangio's Broncos to the less-than-ideal situation they now find themselves in.

Denver will now meet a Detroit Lions team that shockingly secured their first victory of the season in Week 13. An unexpected defeat would see Denver's playoff aspirations nosedive to a grim 6%. Denver must find more offensive success than the nine-point letdown performance we witnessed against the Chiefs in primetime in Week 13. The Lions ultimately represent the ideal bounce-back opponent.


Current Odds: 15%. Odds with a loss: 5%

Sean Payton's Saints have been absolutely ravaged by injury in recent weeks, but the most noteworthy reinforcement will make his much-awaited return to the field on Sunday. Superstar running back Alvin Kamara is expected to play in Week 14, barring an unexpected setback. Kamara hasn't appeared in a contest since Week 9, and New Orleans' offense has struggled tremendously since then, scoring 21 or fewer points in three of their last four games.

The Saints began the campaign in rather impressive fashion, compiling a 5-2 record through their first seven showcases. A Week 8 victory over Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers feels like a decade ago. The Saints have embarked on an extremely unfortunate five-game losing streak since then, an unexpected occurrence that has dropped their postseason chances to a displeasing 15%. New Orleans should defeat the lowly New York Jets on Sunday, but as they say, "Any Given Sunday." A disappointing loss to Zach Wilson and the Jets would see New Orleans' playoff chances descend to 5%. The Saints have qualified for the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, but that streak is dangerously inching toward reaching its conclusion.

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