For the New England Patriots, the 14th week of NFL regular season action will not begin until later today: the reigning world champions will host the Kansas City Chiefs to try to improve to 11-2 on the year. This means that the early portion of games will be a stressless affair for the team and its fans. All in all, there are 10 games on the schedule today before New England’s primetime contest gets kicked off.
Let’s therefore quickly go through the contests to find out who will face off today, and who Patriots fans should be rooting for.
1:00 pm ET
Baltimore Ravens (10-2) at Buffalo Bills (9-3): CBS
Go Bills! While the game itself is essentially a lose-lose scenario from the Patriots’ perspective — either the Ravens stay atop in the AFC or the Bills stay close in the race for the AFC East title — rooting for Buffalo is the way to go: New England will still host the team in two weeks and could then pull away for good, while Baltimore has good chances of winning out after today. The top seed in the conference might therefore be at stake today.
Miami Dolphins (3-9) at New York Jets (4-8): CBS
Go Dolphins! Miami sweeping the Jets this season would be good news for the Patriots, as the Dolphins would fall behind in the race for top draft positioning next season. Also, it is always good to see teams from New York lose.
Carolina Panthers (5-7) at Atlanta Falcons (3-9): FOX
Go Panthers! While the game itself has no impact on the AFC’s playoff picture, a Panthers win would help the Patriots for two reasons: 1.) The Falcons would stay ahead of the Dolphins and Jets in the race for top draft positioning. 2.) The Falcons’ seventh-round pick, which belongs to the Patriots as part of the Jordan Richards trade last summer, would come rather early in the round.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-11) at Cleveland Browns (5-7): CBS
Go Browns! While Cleveland likely has not much of a chance to creep into the playoffs, a win by the team today would help the Patriots: the Bengals would stay on course for the top overall draft pick in case they lose, meaning that the Dolphins’ and Jets’ chances of picking first overall get worse.
Washington Redskins (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (9-3): FOX
Go Packers! Washington and Green Bay play another game with minimal if any impact on the AFC’s playoff picture, but one that could change the draft outlook for the Patriots’ division rivals. A Packers win would therefore help.
Denver Broncos (4-8) at Houston Texans (8-4): CBS
Go Broncos! The Texans hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England due to their win last week, so more space between the two clubs would certainly be welcome from the Patriots’ perspective. Rooting for Denver to upset the AFC South leaders is therefore the way to go.
Detroit Lions (3-8-1) at Minnesota Vikings (8-4): FOX
Go Vikings! Neither the Lions nor the Vikings have an impact on the AFC or the Patriots per se, but a Minnesota victory would again hurt the Dolphins and Jets in terms of draft positioning.
San Francisco 49ers (10-2) at New Orleans Saints (10-2): FOX
Go good game! The 49ers are fighting for the NFC West title against the NFC South-leading Saints in what should be an entertaining game. However, Patriots fans do not need to have a rooting interest in this one.
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7): CBS
Go Buccaneers! While a Colts victory would not per se be bad, seeing Indianapolis lose is always a welcome sight from the Patriots’ perspective.
4:05 pm ET
Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8): FOX
Go good game! Whoever loses has a chance to pass the Dolphins and Jets in the race for draft positioning, so Patriots fans do not need to worry about a particular game winning.