Pending the outcome of Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills, the Week 14 edition of NFL Monday Night Football could be a battle of two AFC division leaders as the New England Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens. Either way, this week’s MNF will have serious implications for the 2016 NFL Playoffs.
Headed into Week 14, the Patriots have a three-game lead over the Miami Dolphins, who are currently second in the AFC East. Still fighting to remain relevant in the division are the third-place Buffalo Bills, who could earn a Wild Card berth if they finish the season strong.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens are currently tied for first place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens and Steelers have a 3.5-game lead over the third-place Cincinnati Bengals, who could very well be mathematically eliminated from the NFL Playoffs after Week 14.
Week 14 Injury Updates
According to Sunday morning’s injury report from CBS Sports, the New England Patriots have two players listed as “Out” for Monday’s game, with six others listed as “Questionable.” While none of these injuries are as detrimental as Rob Gronkowski being placed on New England’s injured reserve list, the list certainly isn’t good news. Several of Tom Brady’s targets could be riding the bench Monday night. Wide receiver Danny Amendola (ankle injury) and tight end Michael Williams (knee injury) are definitely out, while wider receiver Matthew Slater (foot injury) and tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle injury and shoulder injury) are both questionable after limited practice on Friday. The Patriots’ passing defense could be a little weakened as well, with linebackers Elandon Roberts (hamstring injury) and Kevin Snyder (undisclosed injury), cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring injury) and safety Jordan Richards (knee injury) all questionable for Monday night.
While the same report lists three Ravens as out and four more as either questionable or doubtful, an official report from the Ravens noted that “Baltimore doesn’t have a single starter expected to miss Monday night’s game in Foxboro.” Three offensive backups will be out on Monday, including tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh injury), running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh injury) and wide receiver Michael Campanaro (calf injury). Meanwhile, guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder injury), wide receiver Kenny Bell (concussion) and defensive back Carrington Byndom (undisclosed injury) are questionable, and guard Alex Lewis (ankle injury) is doubtful.
Predictions: Top Performers For Fantasy Football — Ravens at Patriots
According to standard fantasy football scoring provided by the NFL, the only players projected to make a significant contribution this week are the wide receivers for the New England Patriots. Julian Edelman (12.90 points) and Malcolm Mitchell (11.10 points) are projected to be the fourth and 16th best at their position this week, with Chris Hogan (9.80 points) rounding out the league’s Top 25. The highest projected received for Baltimore is Steve Smith (6.80 points). Neither starting quarterback, Joe Flacco (12.26 points) or Tom Brady (11.52 points) is projected to be a Top 25 QB this week. Neither team is expected to have a Top 25 running back for Week 14, with Terrance West (6.50 points) projected as the highest back for Baltimore and LeGarrette Blount (6.20 points) as the highest back for New England.
With Rob Gronkowski out for the rest of the season, neither team is expected to have a Top 20 tight end in Week 14. Martellus Bennett (3.50 points) of the Patriots and Dennis Pitta (3.50 points) for the Ravens are projected to be the best options at the position in this game. New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (9.00 points) is tied with four other kickers in the league as the sixth highest projected at the position for Week 14, with Baltimore’s Justin Tucker projected to score just 5.00 points. Neither team’s defense is expected to produce big numbers for fantasy football this week.
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Remaining New England Patriots Schedule — 2016
With just two more wins — or one win and a Miami Dolphins (7-5) loss — the New England Patriots will have clinched the AFC East Division title for 2016. After hosting Baltimore on Monday, they travel to face the Denver Broncos (8-4) in Week 15. They return home to face the New York Jets (3-9) on Christmas Eve. If, against all odds, the Dolphins and Patriots are tied for first place going into Week 17, the division title will be decided in Miami on New Year’s Day.
Remaining Baltimore Ravens Schedule — 2016
As things look right now, the Baltimore Ravens will likely be fighting for a spot in the NFL Playoffs for the remainder of the 2016 regular season. Currently tied for first place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5), there will be stiff competition in the AFC for the Wild Card spots in the post-season. After facing the Patriots this week, they’ll host the Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) in Week 15. If they’re still tied for the division lead in Week 16, they’ll come face-to-face with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, before finishing the season in Cincinnati against the Bengals (3-8-1).
Where to Watch New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens
The 2016 Week 14 edition of Monday Night Football featuring the Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The game will be televised on ESPN with coverage beginning at 8:30 PM EST. The game can be heard live on Sirius XM Radio and can be viewed online with a subscription to NFL Game Pass.
[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]