With the Eagles set to take on Eli Manning and the New York Giants on ESPN’s Monday Night Football this week, Birds fans can stretch out on the couch and check out some of the league’s best teams Sunday.
In Philadelphia, Eagles fans can watch Baltimore Ravens sensation Lamar Jackson, see if Jimmy Garoppolo is actually as good as the San Francsisco 49ers’ record indicates, and root for an aging Tom Brady to continue his slow descent off the cliff against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
After having called the Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football, Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (sporting a hoodie) have the day off Sunday. Instead, Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis will call Fox’s top game of the day, the 1 p.m. match-up between the 49ers and the New Orleans Saints.
CBS has the doubleheader and have tapped Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts for the 1 p.m. matchup between the Ravens and the Buffalo Bills. Tony Romo stood out during last year’s AFC championship game (ex-Eagles defender Chris Long thought Romo had “Miss Cleo in his earpiece”), so it’s no surprise Romo and Jim Nantz will call the Chiefs-Patriots rematch at 4:25 p.m.
Here’s a rundown of the Week 14 NFL games that will air in Philadelphia on Sunday:
The most interesting game of the afternoon pits Lamar Jackson and the high-flying Ravens offense against a stout Bills defense that ranks third overall in the NFL. But if the Bills’ defense has had one weakness, it’s against the run (recall that the Bills gave up 218 yards on the ground in a loss against the Eagles).
For the Bills to have any chance, quarterback Josh Allen will have to continue to play strong as he has the last three weeks, where he’s thrown six touchdowns and averaged a 110.4 passer rating. But the young quarterback — picked No. 7 in the 2018 draft — doesn’t seem particularly worried.
“I wouldn’t consider it a huge game,’’ Allen said on the NFL Network Friday. “Everybody wants to make a big deal out of it. Obviously we’re going against a great team. ... But it’s just another one on our schedule. We’re not trying to make one game any bigger than the rest.”
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: New Era Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn
Referee: Shawn Smith
Random stat: Jackson (977 yards) and Allen (430 yards) have a combined 1,407 rushing yards this season, the most all-time between two opposing quarterbacks entering a game, according to the NFL Network.
The 49ers played great last week in a lost to the Ravens, and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs could be on the line Sunday when they face off against Drew Brees and the high-flying Saints, who have already clinched the NFC South.
For reasons that are difficult to understand, some 49ers fans remain unconvinced by Jimmy Garoppolo, who is having a solid season with a 101.2 passer rating and has gone two straight games without throwing an interception. His play has complemented a dominant defense — ranked No. 2 in the league — that held a Ravens offense used to scoring 40-plus points to just 20.
“These guys, I’m telling you, just when you watch this team play, defensively and offensively and in the kicking game, they’re as balanced a team [as there is], and a team that plays extremely well in all three phases,” Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters during his weekly conference call.
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Channel: Fox 29
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver
Referee: John Hussey
Random stat: The 49ers are only allowing 134.4 net yards passing per game, on pace for the fewest in the NFL since 1982′s strike-shortened season, when the Dolphins allowed 114.1, according to the Associated Press.
All eyes will be on Tom Brady in a rematch of last year’s thrilling AFC championship game. Despite the Patriots’ 10-2 record, the team’s offense has been mediocre this season. And 42-year-old Brady is once again facing questions about the end of his career following last week’s loss against the Texans, where a tirade directed at his wide receivers was captured by NBC cameras and went viral.
“I do that quite a bit in practice,” Brady said during an interview with WEEI this week. “I know they don’t always pick it up when I do speak, but I speak a lot in meetings and [on the] practice field, and certainly in the games, and in the huddle. I’m just trying to communicate what I see. A lot of other guys are doing the same thing.”
Former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy could get his fair share of carries for the Chiefs, with Damien Williams and Darrel Williams out with injuries. But Kansas City’s chances come down to Patrick Mahomes, who has begun to resemble his former self after suffering a minor knee injury in October.
“I think they know us and we know them. We’ve played them quite a few times here over the last few years. It just comes down to execution on both sides of the ball and on special teams," said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who is just 2-9 against Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, including 0-3 in the playoffs (Eagles fans remember one of those losses in particular).
Time: 4:25 p.m.
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson
Referee: Jerome Boger
Random stat: The Patriots are 42-0 against AFC teams at home when both Tom Brady and Julian Edelman are in the lineup, according to 94.1 WIP host and NJ.com writer Joe Giglio.
That debate over who was the best draft pick — Jared Goff or Carson Wentz — sure got complicated this season. Taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the 2016 draft, respectively, both young quarterbacks have struggled to match their performances from last season.
Like Wentz, Goff’s hasn’t been helped much by his team. Running back Todd Gurley hasn’t had a single 100-yard rushing game this season (last year he had six), and the Rams’ offensive line has been devastated by injuries. But Goff has thrown just 13 touchdowns this season and has a less-than-spectacular 84.1 passer rating.
Despite the struggles, the Rams are one game out of a wild card spot, and will take on a Seahawks team locked in a battle with the Saints for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Once again, Russell Wilson has quietly put together an MVP-caliber season, which is saying a lot because he’s already had two seasons with a passer rating north of 110.
“I think ultimately the reality is what I really care about is winning the Super Bowl, you know? That’s what we really want to do,” Wilson said recently on Westwood One’s RapSheet and Friends podcast. “To be in the conversation, to have a chance to potentially put that accomplishment of MVP on the shelf, it would be a blessing for sure.”
Time: 8:20 p.m.
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, Calif.
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Referee: Shawn Hochuli
Random stat: Russell Wilson joined Peyton Manning last week as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards and more than 20 touchdowns in their first eight seasons. Not bad for a former third-round draft pick.