The New England Patriots will have to wait until 8:20 pm to play their first game of the regular season — a primetime matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers — but 24 other teams will open their season before that. Let’s 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
Go injury-free game! The reigning NFC champions will head to Carolina in a game that has little to no impact on the Patriots in 2019 or beyond. So feel free to root for whichever team you prefer or for whoever has the bigger impact on your fantasy football squads.
Go Browns! The Patriots will play Cleveland later during the regular season, and a victory by the team today would therefore increase their strength of schedule and potentially victory as well — two tiebreakers that might be important come playoff seeding time.
Go Jaguars! While the Chiefs fall in the same category as the Browns in terms of a future meeting with the Patriots, rooting for Jacksonville is easy here: Kansas City is again projected to battle the Patriots for the top playoff seed in the AFC, and a loss today would already help New England in this regard.
Go Ravens? Before talking playoffs, the Patriots need to take care of their division first. Baltimore beating Brian Flores’ team would help a bit with that, at least as it relates to one team. Also, New England plays both teams further down the line to potentially improve strength of victory. Then again, the Ravens are seen as more of a threat in the long term than the Dolphins — them winning would therefore also not necessarily be bad.
Go Falcons! With the Chiefs seen as New England’s main rival when it comes to the race for the AFC title, any help the Patriots can get is welcome. Enter the Vikings, who are on Kansas City’s schedule this year and who should therefore lose against Atlanta not to push the Chiefs’ strength of schedule and possibly victory.
Go Jets? Honestly, it does not really matter for the Patriots who wins this game today. The Bills might be the slightly better overall team, but neither they nor the Jets are considered to seriously challenge New England’s standing top the AFC East. Let’s just root for an entertaining and injury-free game, shall we?
Go Washington! The Patriots have both teams on their schedule, but only one of them beat them in the Super Bowl two years ago. Rooting for the visitors extends beyond New England’s history with the Eagles, though, as a loss for Philadelphia would hurt the team’s overall record and possibly improve the seventh-round draft pick the Patriots got in return as part of the Michael Bennett trade.
4:05 p.m. ET
Go Colts! Patriots fans should root for Jacoby Brissett in his first game as Indianapolis’ official starter. After all, the Chargers are seen as one of the AFC’s elite teams this season and a loss today would ensure they start the year in the worst possible fashion and maybe already a game behind New England.
Go Bengals! With Cincinnati being on New England’s schedule this year, the Bengals should be rooted for today. A win in Seattle would subsequently help the Patriots’ strength of schedule and possibly strength of victory.
4:25 p.m. ET
Go Cardinals! As defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia helped New England win two Super Bowls. However, Patriots fans should still root against him and his team today: the Lions are on the Chiefs’ and Chargers’ schedule and a victory by them would increase both teams’ strength of schedule.
Go injury-free game! Both teams are on New England’s schedule this year, so neither result will impact strength of schedule or victory all too much. Going beyond logical reasoning for the 2019 season, you have the Giants as two-time victors over the Patriots in the Super Bowl on the one hand and the always over-hyped Cowboys on the other. It really doesn’t matter who wins this one.
Go 49ers? Another game where the result has no virtual impact on the Patriots’ fortunes this year. New England’s followers could root for San Francisco, though, as former backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo plays for the team now and makes his return after ending last season on injured reserve.