By Dan Durkin–
(CBS) The fourth quarter of the NFL season is upon us. There’a plenty of playoff positioning going on in Week 14. With a win this weekend in Cincinnati, Andy Dalton could become just the second quarterback in league history to take his team to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons in the league.READ MORE: Man's Body Pulled From Lake Michigan In Evanston, Hours After Crews Rescuing 3 Other People Find His Belongings On Beach
Here’s my take on how this weekend’s action plays out.
(Home team in all CAPS)
BENGALS 34, Steelers 30 — noon
The Bengals have an opportunity to clinch the AFC North at home against the division rival Steelers. Both of these offenses are firing on all cylinders right now, and both defenses are struggling in the secondary. This should be a high-scoring affair, but the Bengals are the more talented team and will sweep the season series against the Steelers for the first time since 2009.
Bills 27, EAGLES 23 — noon
It’s a grudge match in Philadelphia. LeSean McCoy hasn’t been shy about his disdain for former coach Chip Kelly, who abruptly shipped him out of town and replaced him with DeMarco Murray, who’s also upset with Kelly — who can’t win on or off the field and won’t this Sunday.
PANTHERS 31, Falcons 20 — noon
The Panthers have won 16 straight regular-season games, yet this Sunday marks the first time they’ll face their NFC South foe Atlanta Falcons this season. Carolina’s defense will dominate an Atlanta offense that lost its way nearly half a season ago.
49ers 23, BROWNS 20 — noon
Blaine Gabbert vs. Johnny Manziel. That’ll sure be worth the price of admission, won’t it? No? You’re right. My bad. Seriously, that’s what people will watch in this game, along with plenty of Shaun Draughn. OK, I’ll stop. The 49ers defense will shut down the Browns in Cleveland, who will inch closer to securing the first overall pick next April, which they’ll likely miss on.
BEARS 24, Redskins 23 — noon
Both of these teams have five wins on the season. Yet as it stands, the Redskins are atop the NFC East, the conference’s fourth seed and would host a home playoff game in the wild-card round, while the Bears are 11th in the conference. Hooray for “parity!” The Bears stink at home almost as bad as the Redskins do on the road. The Bears’ ground game will pull them through.
Lions 23, RAMS 13 — noon
Will either of the head coaches of these teams have jobs at the end of the season? Strong cases can be made for both of them to be issued pink slips. The Lions are likely still in a state of disbelief from last week’s game, one in which they lost despite holding a lead with six seconds left and the Packers on their own 21-yard line. Alas, the Rams are a laughingstock on offense and will be one again this Sunday.
CHIEFS 31, Chargers 23 — noon
Who exactly will the Chargers line up this Sunday in Kansas City? They haven’t been bitten by an injury bug; it’s more like an injury pterodactyl at this point. The Chargers have no offensive line and no running game. That’s a bad combination against the Chiefs dominant pass rush. This game will be over quickly as the Chiefs make it seven straight.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Last Weekend Of Summer May Be Among Nicest
BUCS 34, Saints 27 — noon
For years, it would be the Saints jockeying for playoff position at this point in the season, yet the tables are turned. Winners of three of their last four, the Bucs are playing good football. The Saints defense can’t stop anyone and has allowed 21 passing touchdowns over its past five games. Their fortunes won’t change Sunday in Tampa Bay.
JAGUARS 27, Colts 24 — noon
As if an injury to starting quarterback Andrew Luck wasn’t enough, the Colts are now dealing with an injury to Matt Hasselbeck (neck, shoulder). The Jaguars defense is struggling and may be without top player Paul Posluszny (hand). The Jaguars can sling the rock, and the Colts have a tough time defending the pass. I like the Jaguars at home.
JETS 34, Titans 21 — noon
The talent differential between these two teams on both sides of the football is vast. The Titans are struggling to defend the pass, while the Jets are scoring at will through the air. The Jets run defense is the best in the league, and they’re getting after the passer. It’s a bad matchup all around for the Titans, who will get pasted on the road.
Seahawks 31, RAVENS 20 — noon
The Seahawks are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, thanks in large part to the sparkling play of quarterback Russell Wilson, who has 11 touchdowns and no interceptions during the team’s three-game winning streak. The Ravens will put up a fight at home, but they simply don’t have the talent to compete for 60 minutes against the Seahawks.
BRONCOS 27, Raiders 17 — 3:05 p.m.
Denver is beat up on both sides of the football but still have enough to win its fifth straight AFC West title. The Broncos may get back DeMarcus Ware this Sunday, which would be a boost to their defense against a strong Raiders offensive line. Oakland’s promising start has spiraled, and it’ll drop its fifth game in the last six against Denver.
PACKERS 24, Cowboys 16 — 3:25 p.m.
The Packers are still riding high after their improbable last-second win over the Lions. The last two times these teams met was last year in the playoffs, in which a great game was marred by an awful call on a confusing rule. The Cowboys’ pass defense is strong and will get the best of the Packers’ struggling passing attack. But the Packers defense will overwhelm an undermanned group of Cowboys.
Patriots 27, TEXANS 20 — 7:30 p.m.
This game has playoff implications for both teams. The Patriots are trying to keep pace with the Bengals and Broncos, while the Texans have rebounded from a slow start and have a realistic shot at taking a bad AFC South. Even with a depleted group to work with, Tom Brady has enough to get past a stingy Texans defense.
Giants 27, DOLPHINS 23 — Monday night, 7:30 p.m.
It’s another coaching hot seat matchup as the New York Giants travel to Miami. The Dolphins made good on their promise and have struck more balance on offense under new coordinator Zac Taylor. However, this week against a weak Giants pass defense, they may have to change course. I like the Giants passing game to carry them in a close one.
Season record through Week 13: 116-76 (Last week: 12-4)MORE NEWS: At Least 5 People Killed, 20 Wounded So Far In Chicago Weekend Gun Violence; 3-Year-Old Boy Among Survivors
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @djdurkin.