NFL PRE­VIEWS

The Herald-Sun (Sunday) - - Sports -

In­di­anapo­lis (6-6) at Hous­ton (9-3): Should Hous­ton get by the Colts, the sched­ule has vis­its to the Jets and Ea­gles and a home fi­nale against Jack­sonville. Why can’t the Tex­ans run the ta­ble? New Or­leans (10-2) at Tampa Bay (5-7): The Saints take the NFC South with a win or a Car­olina loss. Bucs quar­ter­back Jameis Win­ston has not turned over the ball since re­gain­ing the start­ing job two weeks ago.

Los An­ge­les Rams (11-1) at Chicago (8-4): This is an in­trigu­ing matchup, LA’s sec­ond-ranked of­fense against Chicago’s No. 4 de­fense. Chicago’s de­fense leads the NFL with 21 in­ter­cep­tions and will test Jared Goff.

New Eng­land (9-3) at Mi­ami (6-6): A Pa­tri­ots win – this is one place they don’t like, hav­ing lost four of the past five at Mi­ami – means yet an­other AFC East crown, 10 in a row. Mi­ami has been out­gained by 1,168 yards but is in wild-card con­tention.

Bal­ti­more (7-5) at Kansas City (10-2): Beat­ing the high-pow­ered Chiefs at Ar­row­head calls for a mon­strous de­fen­sive show­ing, and Bal­ti­more has the top-ranked D and also a clock-killing run game. Still, Kansas City is 5-0 at home and leads the league at 37 points per game.

Cincin­nati (5-7) at Los An­ge­les Charg­ers (9-3): With Cincin­nati in a rugged, in­jury-caused slump, LA could romp Sun­day. Philip Rivers has thrown two or more TDs in each of his first 12 games, tied for the third-longest streak to be­gin a sea­son in NFL his­tory. Pitts­burgh (7-4-1) at Oak­land (2-10): The Steel­ers are 3-8 all time in Oak­land. Still, un­less they hand things to the Raiders, they should win even with­out stand­out RB James Con­ner (an­kle). Philadel­phia (6-6) at Dal­las (7-5): Dal­las has won four straight and comes off an im­pres­sive vic­tory against the Saints. Ea­gles TE Zach Ertz has al­ready es­tab­lished a sin­gle-sea­son fran­chise record with 93 re­cep­tions. New York Gi­ants (4-8) at Washington (6-6): Mark Sanchez is the Washington starter with both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy out with bro­ken legs. New York, which lost star safety Lan­don Collins (shoul­der) for the sea­son, has won three of four since its bye.

At­lanta (4-8) at Green Bay (4-7-1): Most in­ter­est­ing story line is Joe Philbin tak­ing over as Pack­ers coach and call­ing plays for the first time in his pro ca­reer. The At­lanta de­fense is 31st against third downs (51 per­cent). Den­ver (6-6) at San Fran­cisco (2-10): The Bron­cos have awak­ened with three con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries, but lost top wide­out Em­manuel San­ders with a torn Achilles ten­don. San Fran­cisco’s five take­aways are the fewest through 12 games since at least 1940. Car­olina (6-6) at Cleve­land (4-7-1): A four-game slide has se­ri­ously en­dan­gered the Pan­thers’ play­off chances. Their pass­ing game has strug­gled and Cam New­ton has a sore right shoul­der. But they’re av­er­ag­ing 140.8 rush­ing yards per game. The Browns lead the AFC with 27 take­aways.

New York Jets (3-9) at Buf­falo (4-8): It looks as if Sam Darnold is re­cov­ered from his strained right foot, set­ting up a matchup with fel­low firstround se­lec­tion Josh Allen.

Detroit (4-8) at Ari­zona (3-9): The Li­ons have lost eight straight at Ari­zona. Car­di­nals WR Larry Fitzger­ald needs one catch to move ahead of Jerry Rice for the most re­cep­tions for one team in NFL his­tory.

ERIC CHRIS­TIAN SMITH AP

De­fen­sive end J.J. Watt and Hous­ton can nearly lock up the AFC South with a win against In­di­anapo­lis.

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