Follow the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots starting at 1 p.m. on RDS and on RDS.ca.
Bengals vs. Patriots
The Cincinnati Bengals visit the New England Patriots in Foxborough with their playoff ticket already in their pocket.
Currently top of the AFC North Division, the Bengals (10-4) saw their qualification for the post-season dance confirmed Thursday night, when the New York Jets suffered a loss against the Jaguars of Jacksonville.
But even with a guaranteed qualification, this game against the Pats remains important. A win for Cincinnati on Saturday against the Patriots would bring them closer to a second straight division title for the Bengals, who can also believe in their chances of winning the conference title.
After this duel against the Patriots, the Bengals will end their season with games against the Buffalo Bills (11-3), first in the AFC, then against the Baltimore Ravens (9-5), against whom they are fighting for the division title.
In the camp of the Patriots (7-7), victory is paramount in the middle of the playoff race. The team is currently excluded from the playoffs, notably behind the Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) and the Miami Dolphins (8-6).
New England have won only one of their last four games and the visit of Joe Burrow is certainly not the most encouraging, he who has helped the Bengals win each of their last six meetings.
But the Patriots can be reassured. They’ve won their last three games against Cincinnati and eight of their last 10 meetings.
Last week, the Patriots suffered a bitter setback against the Las Vegas Raiders. On the last play of the 4th quarter and when the score was tied, Jakobi Meyers attempted a backwards pass which was intercepted. Chandler Jones returned the ball into the end zone to deliver a dramatic win for the Raiders.
For their part, the Bengals scored 34 straight points last Sunday to close a 17-point deficit and win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Eagles v. Cowboys (4:25 p.m.)
With three games left in the season, the Philadelphia Eagles will be challenged twice rather than once. Not only will the Eagles (13-1) face their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys (10-4), but they will likely have to do so without the presence of their quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Injured in the right shoulder, Hurts should give way to Gardner Minshew. The reserve will have the task of securing the NFC title for the Eagles with a victory against the Cowboys.
Nevertheless, the match has a much lower stake than one would have thought. The Cowboys suffered a setback against the Jaguars last week, virtually wiping out their chances of winning the NFC East Division title ahead of the Eagles.
In the first game between the two teams earlier this season, the Eagles had the upper hand by a score of 26-17.
The Eagles should count on the return of tight end Dallas Goedert.
When Minshew started when Hurts was injured last year, Goedert had 105 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a win against the Jets.
Goedert missed five games with a shoulder injury. He was injured in Philadelphia’s only loss this season (in November, against Washington). Philadelphia has won each of its last five games.
Without Goedert, the Eagles bet on wide ends AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. Now the passing game will once again have three main options.
Raiders v. Steelers (8:15 p.m.)
The game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Las Vegas Raiders was to be the scene of an evening of celebration, as the Steelers (6-8) were to retire Franco Harris’ number.
This week, however, we learned some very sad news, as Harris passed away just three days before the retirement of his jersey. Saturday, the Steelers will certainly want to honor the memory of the legendary running back in good and due form.
“We are all heartbroken, but we want to honor him and his legacy on the weekend. Obviously, where our focus needs to be is on the preparation needed to deliver the kind of performance that will underscore the man that Franco was,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said.
Friday also marked the 50th anniversary of Harris’ “The Immaculate Reception.” All eyes were therefore on Saturday night’s duel against the Raiders (6-8).
For their part, a week after their dramatic victory against the Patriots, the Raiders will try to sign a second consecutive victory and a fifth victory in their last six games.
But unfortunately for the Raiders (6-8), the team may come up short to reach the playoffs. The one-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14 could have been very costly.
Las Vegas will attack Saturday’s game with its own version of the Immaculate Reception. Last week, Chandler Jones intercepted a pass from Jakobi Meyer on the last play of the game and returned the ball into the end zone for the win over New England.