NFL Sunday: Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Jimmy Garoppolo on show
Watch NFL Sunday on Sky Sports Action (407) from 5pm
By Cameron Hogwood
Last Updated: 01/12/19 5:06pm
The race to the NFL playoffs continues on Sunday and you can watch three huge games live on Sky Sports - including 49ers at Ravens, Raiders at Chiefs and Patriots at Texans.
Sunday's build-up coverage will begin at 5pm before the first kick-off at 6pm, and the games will be followed by a fascinating Monday Night Football match-up when the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) visit the Seattle Seahawks (9-2), live on Sky Sports Action at 1.15am on Monday night/Tuesday morning.
- Trubisky leads Bears to victory over Lions
- Bills clamp down on Cowboys in Dallas
- Saints' Hill sinks Falcons for title
For now, let's look ahead to Sunday's games...
6pm: San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens
Seasons so far: The San Francisco 49ers (10-1) are edging ever closer to a playoff berth as they seek their 11th win of the season when they visit the Baltimore Ravens (9-2). They will book their post-season slot if they beat the Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams fail to win against the Arizona Cardinals.
Kyle Shanahan's men are currently second in rushing yards in the NFL with 1,602, behind only the Ravens' 2,316. Their only defeat this year arrived against the division-rival Seahawks, since which they have won three straight including an impressive 37-8 victory over the Green Bay Packers. They are also the No 1-ranked defense in the league when it comes to yards conceded per game with 248.
The Ravens reaffirmed their playoff credentials on Monday Night Football courtesy of Lamar Jackson's five-touchdown clinic against the Rams. John Harbaugh's side lead the NFL with 386 points at an average of 35.1 across their first 11 games and are the only team to have beaten the defending champions - the New England Patriots.
Players to watch: George Kittle continues to be a pivotal piece for the 49ers on offense, evidenced by his six catches for 129 yards and one touchdown against the Packers in his first game back since a three-week injury absence. Despite missing time on the field, the tight end remains quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's top target with 52 catches for 670 yards.
While Jackson's dual-threat can't be ignored for the Ravens, one man to monitor is cornerback Marcus Peters. The 26-year-old has elevated Baltimore's defense with three interceptions and two touchdowns since his arrival from the Rams. He promises to be key in containing the likes of Kittle for a Ravens defense that is allowing 235 passing yards on average per game.
9.25pm: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Seasons so far: It has been a strange and so far mixed season for the Oakland Raiders (6-5), who have both flashed playoff potential as well as disappointed on occasion. Head coach Jon Gruden has seen his team chalk up impressive wins over the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, but then get stomped 34-3 by the New York Jets last time out. An unlikely win over the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) would certainly put the pressure on the NFC West leaders.
The Chiefs haven't quite been as difficult to contain as they were in 2018 (12-4 and the No 1 seed in the AFC), nonetheless Andy Reid's team are still second to the Dallas Cowboys in passing yards with 3,319 at an average of 301.7.
Reigning quarterback MVP Patrick Mahomes is 10th in passing yards with 2,808 despite missing two games through injury earlier in the year. He has also thrown for 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions and notably helped inflict one of the Ravens' two defeats with 373 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 33-28 victory. On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs have the third-worst rushing defense having allowed 1,574 yards so far this season.
Players to watch: With the Chiefs' struggles against the run in mind, Josh Jacobs will be a primary threat for the Raiders at Arrowhead. The running back is fifth in the NFL for rushing yards this season with 957 and currently has seven touchdowns to his name. Rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby could be another key figure having produced a team-high 7.5 sacks this year as well as three forced fumbles.
Kansas City will be hoping to welcome back big-play wide receiver Tyreek Hill after he was forced off with a hamstring injury in the first quarter of last week's win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Hill, who has only played seven games this year, enters the game with 33 receptions for 543 yards and five touchdowns.
1.20am: New England Patriots at Houston Texans
Seasons so far: Thanksgiving week is really when the season begins for the New England Patriots (10-1), more so for them than any other team in the league. Their story this season has been one of typically world-class coaching at the helm of a team that hasn't dazzled or dominated, but one that has got the job done so far. They are 17th in the NFL with 3,881 total yards on offense, only 1,011 of which have come rushing.
The defending Super Bowl champions can secure their playoff spot this weekend if one of five scenarios plays out - the most likely of which is a New England win combined with the Raiders failing to beat the Chiefs. After beating the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12, the Patriots have now won at least 10 games for a record 17 consecutive seasons.
The Texans are ranked No 7 on offense thanks to 4,198 total yards, which includes 2,692 passing yards (12th) and 1,506 rushing yards (tied-sixth). Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been at the heart of everything good about the Texans this year, throwing for 20 touchdowns and running in for five more. Were it not for the remarkable numbers being put up by Jackson and Russell Wilson, he would be tough to overlook in the MVP discussion.
It's on defense where the Texans have struggled, with star defensive end J.J. Watt having been placed on injured reserve at the end of October. Houston is 16th for most rushing yards allowed per game with 108, eighth for most passing yards allowed per game with 259.3 and have recorded the fourth-fewest sacks with 22 along with just five interceptions.
Players to watch: Frailties to both the Texans' run and pass defense could invite Patriots running back James White to benefit as a threat both out of the backfield and as a receiver target in the open field. While Sony Michel leads the ground game, White can offer the Patriots a reliable outlet as his side's second most productive receiver this year with 49 catches for 414 yards.
If anyone can hurt this Patriots defense, it's Watson and his favourite target DeAndre Hopkins, who enters the game with 81 catches for 839 yards and six touchdowns. He looks set for what could be a blockbuster dual with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, and the entire Texans offensive line, will also be vital in helping to give Watson gets the time he needs to have an influence in the pocket.