It’s the final set of off weeks for NFL 2022 as six clubs – five of those in the NFC – get an opportunity to take some time off, get healthy and tweak their game plans. It’s an important week for the AFC as the playoff chase has tightened up in that conference. And the Eagles, Vikings and Chiefs can all clinch playoff spots.
Off: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Washington
Thursday, Dec. 8
Las Vegas (5-7) at L.A. Rams (3-9): This starts a stretch in Sean McVay’s club faces an AFC West foe three times in four games. Las Vegas is on a three-game roll while the defending Super Bowl champs have dropped six straight. Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs leads the NFL in rushing. The Rams are fourth in the league in run defense.
Sunday, Dec. 11
N.Y. Jets (7-5) at Buffalo (9-3): Back in Week 9 at MetLife Stadium, Robert Saleh’s club rallied from a 14-3 deficit to defeat Buffalo, 20-17. However, the last time the Jets swept the Bills was 2016. The AFC East leaders have turned over the ball 20 times in 12 games (15 by quarterback Josh Allen) – two fewer than their 2021 season total (22).
Cleveland (5-7) at Cincinnati (8-4): Back in Week 8 on a Monday night in Cleveland, Kevin Stefanski’s club played its best game of the season in a 32-13 victory over the Bengals. The Browns have prevailed in five straight and nine of the last 10 meetings between the clubs. Cincinnati has won four straight games and is 8-2 in its last 10 outings.
Houston (1-10-1) at Dallas (9-3): Can a team ranked dead last in the NFL in total offense and rushing defense have any success against a Dallas’ team that has forced 21 turnovers and totaled 48 sacks while owning the NFL’s seventh-ranked running game. This is the second of three straight games vs. AFC South teams for the hot Cowboys.
Minnesota (10-2) at Detroit (5-7): In Week 3 at Minneapolis, the Vikings rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit for a 28-24 victory. It was Minnesota’s ninth win in the last 10 meetings in this NFC North rivalry. The Purple Gang has won twice as many games as the Lions, but Detroit has scored more points (315) than Minnesota (289).
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Philadelphia (11-1) at N.Y. Giants (7-4-1): It’s the first meeting of the season for these longtime divisional rivals. And the Giants are now 1-3-1 in their last five games after winning six of their first seven outings. Brian Daboll’s club ranks 26th in the league against the run and will look to slow down Philadelphia’s fifth-ranked ground game.
Baltimore (8-4) at Pittsburgh (5-7): The Steelers have won three of their last four games. Mike Tomlin’s team has averaged 157.8 yards per game rushing in its last five outings. But only the 49ers have allowed fewer yards per game on the ground this season than Baltimore. Pittsburgh has won four straight games in this intense rivalry.
Jacksonville (4-8) at Tennessee (7-5): Mike Vrabel’s club has taken it on the chin the past two weeks but remain atop the AFC South. The Titans are a perfect 3-0 vs. their division rivals this season. This is the Tennessee’s first meeting of the season with the Jaguars. Tennessee has won five straight and nine of the last 10 encounters.
Kansas City (9-3) at Denver (3-9): The Chiefs have not only won the last 13 meetings in this AFC West rivalry but have prevailed in their last seven trips to Denver. Simply put, this is the highest-scoring team in the league vs. the lowest. Kansas City averages 29.2 points per game and the Broncos manage only 13.8 points per contest.
Tampa Bay (6-6) at San Francisco (8-4): It’s a battle of first-place teams that have had contrasting seasons to date. The Buccaneers have lost two more games than they did all of last season and have given up more points (219) than they have scored. The 49ers have won five straight games and feature the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
Carolina (4-8) at Seattle (7-5): The Panthers had some extra time to prepare for this clash with the much-improved Seahawks. Pete Carroll’s club has already won as many games as it did a year ago when it finished last in the NFC West. The ‘Hawks give up plenty of yards but have 21 takeaways – three more than the team managed in 2021.
Miami (8-4) at L.A. Chargers (6-6): The Chargers host the ‘Fins for the first time since 2017. Former Chiefs’/turned Dolphins’ wideout Tyreek Hill is very familiar with the Bolts. In 11 outings vs. this AFC West foe, the seven-year pro has caught 53 passes for 799 yards and seven TDs. Hill also has two punt return touchdowns vs. the Chargers.
Monday, Dec. 12
New England (6-6) at Arizona (4-8): Bill Belichick’s team has dropped two straight games and now faces its fifth interconference foe of the season. Dating back to 2001 and including nine Super Bowl appearances, the Patriots are an impressive 71-27 vs. NFC teams. But dating back to 2020, the Pats are just 4-9 vs. NFC competition.