NFL fans will be treated to not one but two games on Monday night, ending Week 14 with a pair of prime-time showdowns.
The Miami Dolphins (9-3) will host the Tennessee Titans (4-8), pitting the team currently holding onto the No. 1 seed in the AFC against a squad at the bottom of the AFC South, respectively. The Dolphins are coming off of their third straight win, a 45-15 walloping of the Washington Commanders, while the Titans head to Miami on the heels of a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Colts.
Monday's other matchup features the Green Bay Packers (6-6) and the New York Giants (4-8). The Packers have clawed their way back into the NFC playoff picture behind a three-game win streak, including victories over the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. The Giants also come into Monday's game on a streak, having won their last two games behind former third-string rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito, before going on bye in Week 13.
Here are six things to watch for in Titans-Dolphins and Packers-Giants on Monday night:
- Can anyone stop the Dolphins’ offense? Behind the dynamic play of Tua Tagovailoa and his teammates, Miami's offense ranks first in the league in total yards per game, is averaging 32 points per contest and ranks No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in passing and rushing yards, emphasizing the absolute dominance of the squad in 2023. Tyreek Hill is on pace to be the first receiver to ever record 2,000 yards in a season, and is also leading the league in receiving touchdowns (12). Dolphins running backs De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert rank in the top 10 for rushing yards per game. As Miami heads toward a likely postseason run, the question remains who can find a way to stop this offense. The Titans will take a stab at it on Monday, but will have a tall task ahead of them. While Tennessee has had relative success containing the run game, ranking 13th, it has struggled against the pass, ranking 22nd. And with Miami’s talents at scoring points either way, it will be a big ask for the Titans to contain this well-oiled offensive machine.
- Fins D looks to continue recent success. Rightfully so, Miami's offense has gotten a lot of the headlines, but the defense should get some attention as well for the way it’s played, especially in recent weeks. The Dolphins have allowed 15 points or fewer each of their last three games, and the squad ranks top 10 overall in both passing and rushing yards allowed per game. Four players have at least 6.5 sacks -- the most by any team. Especially crucial to this defense’s progress was the return of Jalen Ramsey in Week 8. Since his return from a torn meniscus, the Dolphins have ranked No. 2 and No. 1 in points and yards allowed per game, respectively, while Ramsey has hauled in three interceptions, third-most in the league. Even with the recent season-ending injury to Jaelan Phillips, the defense didn’t seem to lose a step last week, and it will have another opportunity to prove its mettle in Monday night’s matchup against a Titans offense that’s 27th in pass ingyards per game and 17th in rushing, even with Derrick Henry on board.
- Titans get good and bad injury updates. Speaking of the Titans’ star running back, Henry has no injury status going into the game, despite worries earlier in the week that he could have had to enter concussion protocol after exiting Sunday’s game after evaluation. But he's good to go, a crucial update considering the way Tennessee’s offense goes through the running back. On the negative side of the injury spectrum, the Titans will be without one of their leaders on defense in Jeffery Simmons, who will miss at least a couple weeks with a knee injury. Staring down a matchup with the best offense in the league, the Titans have been dealt a big loss with Simmons' absence.
- Can Love keep his streak going? The Packers’ climb back into playoff contention was in no small part due to the vastly improved play of their quarterback, as Jordan Love has seemingly found his stride in the last three games. In the first nine games of the season, Love was averaging 223.2 passing yards per game and had 14 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Green Bay went 3-6. Starting in Week 11, Love has averaged 285.7 yards per game and has an 8-0 TD-INT ratio, putting him among the top quarterbacks in the league during that span while leading his team to two wins against division-leading teams. He’ll look to continue his streak of success against the Giants, a matchup which looks favorable on paper. New York’s defense ranks 28th in the league in yards allowed per game (364.3) -- 20th in pass YPG -- and has allowed at least 30 points on five occasions. Not in Love’s favor, however, is the absence of one of his main targets, Christian Watson, who was ruled out after suffering a hamstring injury late in last week’s game. Watson is coming off of games with 94 and 71 receiving yards, along with a combined three TDs, and his absence could be glaring as Love tries to keep things rolling and keep his team in the playoff picture.
- Giants again under pressure. The Giants’ offensive line has been notoriously weak this season, as New York quarterbacks have been sacked 69 times, 11 times more than the next closest team. Even as Tommy DeVito found success in the offense, he’s still been sacked 26 times in the last four games. A big reason for the struggles has been turnover at most positions due to injury, but even when players have been healthy, the pass protection just hasn’t been there. And now this group will be called upon to protect DeVito against the Packers’ pass rush, which has been gaining steam recently, led by Rashan Gary’s 4.5 sacks in the last three games (9.0 on the year). How DeVito and the Giants handle what could be another night of significant pressure will be key to potential offensive success.
- Can Barkley get back to his standard? DeVito played relatively well to send the Giants into the bye with a two-game winning streak, and he did so with only minimal support from the run game. New York had 91 rushing yards against the Commanders and just 58 against the Patriots; not the sort of numbers you want when Saquon Barkley is leading the charge. Now after a week’s rest, Barkley will look to get back on track in the favorable matchup ahead against the Packers, who rank 30th in rushing yards per game allowed. Considering that the Green Bay pass defense is 10th in yards allowed, along with the aforementioned sack issues for the Giants, DeVito could find it tough to find yardage through the air, so getting the support from the run game that he’s been missing the last few games is critical on Monday night.