NFL Week 14 kicks off

QB Hot Sheet, ‘TNF’ pre­view

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Lorenzo Reyes

Each week dur­ing the NFL sea­son, USA TO­DAY will as­sess every­one’s fa­vorite topic: quar­ter­backs. Who’s hot? Who’s not? Who has the most ex­cit­ing matchups? Here’s this week’s QB Hot Sheet:

Five to watch this week

1. Aaron Rodgers, Pack­ers: The sea­son is ba­si­cally lost, but it will be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how Green Bay’s of­fense looks after coach Mike McCarthy was fired. There was a clear dis­con­nect with Rodgers and McCarthy, so look for in­terim coach Joe Philbin to scheme a plan against the Fal­cons of things Rodgers does best.

2. Ben Roeth­lis­berger, Steel­ers: In re­cent weeks, Pitts­burgh has gone away from run­ning the ball. With run­ning back James Con­ner out with an an­kle sprain, even more pres­sure will fall on Roeth­lis­berger to keep the of­fense mov­ing. The Steel­ers have lost two in a row, in­clud­ing a col­lapse against the Charg­ers after lead­ing by 16 points. The Raiders should be an easy op­po­nent, but five turnovers in the last two games are un­ac­cept­able. 3. Jameis Win­ston, Buc­ca­neers:

He has fi­nally lim­ited turnovers and is turn­ing in ef­fi­cient per­for­mances. Not coin­ci­den­tally, Tampa Bay has won two in a row. Against the Saints, Win­ston will need to main­tain his height­ened level of pre­ci­sion pass­ing (72.6 per­cent com­ple­tion rate over last three games) and avoid costly mis­takes.

4. An­drew Luck, Colts: Com­ing off of eas­ily his worst game of the sea­son, Luck can’t af­ford an­other dud. The Colts (6-6) are vis­it­ing the red-hot Tex­ans, who have the NFL’s long­est win­ning streak at nine games. He has thrown three picks in the last two games and has to avoid turnovers against Hous­ton. 5. Mark Sanchez, Red­skins:

Things are un­rav­el­ing for Wash­ing­ton (6-6), which lost its sec­ond quar­ter­back for the sea­son to a bro­ken leg in three weeks and has dropped three games in a row. So now Sanchez will be the one to try to sal­vage the sea­son. He couldn’t get much go­ing against the Ea­gles on Mon­day night and could be in for more of the same against the Gi­ants.

Three trend­ing up

1. Patrick Ma­homes, Chiefs: His four-TD day pushed Kansas City over the Raiders, but with Ka­reem Hunt re- leased, it was Ma­homes who led the team in rush­ing yards (52). If the Chiefs’ ground game sput­ters, the of­fense will be more re­liant on him than ever.

2. Win­ston: Still a small sam­ple size, but the last three games have been a good show­case for Win­ston in his push to get the Buc­ca­neers to com­mit to him be­yond this sea­son.

3. Rus­sell Wil­son, Sea­hawks: Seat­tle is qui­etly firm­ing its spot in the play­off chase, and Wil­son is the rea­son. He’s on pace for ca­reer bests in passer rat­ing (115.5) and pass­ing touch­downs (cur­rently with 29).

Three trend­ing down

1. Drew Brees, Saints: Clamped down on by the Cow­boys’ de­fense, Brees turned in his worst game (64.3 per­cent com­ple­tion rate, 127 yards, one TD, one in­ter­cep­tion) of the sea­son. He is still a lead­ing MVP can­di­date and should bounce back against a por­ous Bucs de­fense.

2. Cam New­ton, Pan­thers: Four picks in a loss to the Buc­ca­neers con­tin­ued a skid for New­ton and Carolina. The Pan­thers have lost four in a row, and New­ton has thrown seven in­ter­cep­tions, in­clud­ing at least one in each game, in the los­ing streak.

3. Luck: An eight-game streak of three or more pass­ing touch­downs was snapped in a shutout. Luck took three sacks, sec­ond most this sea­son, and didn’t look com­fort­able all day against the Jaguars.

Sea­son rank­ings

1. Ma­homes (last week: 2): He re­claims the top spot after a few weeks at No. 2. He’s now on pace for 54 touch­downs, which would put him one be­hind Pey­ton Man­ning’s sea­son record.

2. Brees (1): He still leads the league in com­ple­tion rate (75.5 per­cent) but slips one spot back.

3. Philip Rivers (3), Charg­ers: A sig­na­ture vic­tory against the Steel­ers showed what he does best: spread the ball ac­cu­rately to dif­fer­ent tar­gets and take cal­cu­lated shots down the field.

4. Wil­son (5): At one point against the 49ers, he needed just four com­ple­tions (on six passes) to gain 102 yards and three touch­downs. He is el­e­vat­ing Seat­tle and is on a roll.

5. Luck (4): He’d be higher if he had fewer turnovers, but his 32 touch­down passes, good for sec­ond best in the NFL, keep him in the top five.

RON CHENOY/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger has thrown as many TD passes (three) as in­ter­cep­tions over the two-game los­ing streak.

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