After one week off, the New England Patriots will return to the field today when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Until the game gets kicked off at 4:25 pm ET, however, there are nine other games on the menu — with some of them being worth keeping a close eye on. Let’s quickly go through the games to find out who will face off today, and who Patriots fans should be rooting for.
1:00 pm ET
Go Texans! The Ravens are New England’s top competitor for the number one playoff seed in the AFC and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so rooting for Houston in this one — the Patriots will go up against Bill O’Brien’s team in two weeks — is a no-brainer.
Go Panthers! There is only one simple reason why Patriots fans should have a rooting interest in this game: the 2020 draft. New England owns Atlanta’s seventh-round pick next year, so every loss improves its position.
Go Cowboys! In the unlikely case a team not on the Patriots’ schedule should challenge them for a playoff seed, strength of schedule and strength of victory might become important. Rooting for Dallas is therefore the way to go here.
Go Jaguars! The Colts are clearly behind the Patriots, but more distance between the two clubs with the playoff picture on the horizon is certainly not bad
Go Dolphins! This is also one of the easiest games to root for: the Bills are the Patriots’ only real competition for the AFC East title, while the Dolphins are in the race for a top playoff spot. Miami winning today would address both problems in New England’s favor.
Go Vikings! Neither the Broncos nor the Vikings have much impact on the AFC’s playoff race, but rooting against Denver is still the way to go here: the team is in competition for the top draft picks next year, and seeing it leap-frog the Dolphins and New York Jets would certainly be welcome.
Go good game! This game has virtually no impact on the Patriots and the playoff picture in the AFC, so you can just root for a good game.
New York Jets (2-7) at Washington Redskins (1-8): FOX
Go Jets! New York winning in Washington is the preferred outcome from the Patriots’ perspective: a Jets win would create more distance between the two teams in the race for top positions in next year’s draft.
4:05 pm ET
Go good game! The last team to fall from the ranks of the unbeatens this season, the 49ers will host Arizona today in a battle of former Patriots backup quarterbacks: Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury will go against San Francisco passer Jimmy Garoppolo. Who wins is not important for New England, however.