The day is a bad one for the New England Patriots: they lost against the Miami Dolphins and now will have to play on wild card weekend for the first time since 2009. This means that the team and its fans can not enjoy a relaxed Sunday afternoon and instead will be able to watch the team’s wild card opponent — either the Tennessee Titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Oakland Raiders
With that being said, what are the games? And who should Patriots fans root for? Let’s find out.
4:25 pm ET
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) at Baltimore Ravens (13-2): CBS
Go Steelers! Pittsburgh needs a win in order to have a theoretical chance at earning the final wild card spot, so the Patriots should root for just that: the Steelers are not a particularly good football team at the quarterback position, and would be a favorable matchup for New England next week.
Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Houston Texans (10-5): CBS
Go Texans! The Titans are entering Week 17 as one of the hottest team in the NFL, and one certainly capable of challenging New England even on the road. A Tennessee loss is therefore probably the preferred outcome.
Go Colts! Neither the Colts nor the Jaguars have any impact on the AFC’s playoff picture, so rooting for an Indianapolis win is the way to go. Why? Beating the Jaguars would worsen their draft position next April.
Go Cowboys! Who would you rather have win the NFC East? We’re going with the team that did not beat New England in a Super Bowl once: the Cowboys. In order for them to make the postseason and win the division, a win versus Washington is essential.
Go Giants! For Dallas to make the playoffs over the Eagles, Philadelphia also needs to lose in New York. This makes the Giants the rooting interest in this game.
Oakland Raiders (7-8) at Denver Broncos (6-9): CBS
Go good game! While Oakland still is theoretically capable of reaching the playoffs, it seems highly unlikely the team will do just that. As a result, there is no clear rooting interest in this game. If, for some reason, the Raiders do make they playoffs they would travel to Foxborough.
Go good game! Neither the Cardinals nor the Rams have anything left to play for other than draft positioning.
8:20 pm ET
Go good game! The regular season ends with a highly-anticipated NFC West heavyweight fight. While the contest projects to be an exiting one, the Patriots do not have a real rooting interest here.