The New England Patriots won’t enter the action in Week 10 until Sunday night, but there is still plenty of football going on before their primetime matchup with the Baltimore Ravens: 11 games are scheduled to be played in the early two windows, with rivals, old friends, and upcoming opponents both about to take the field today. With that said, let’s take a look at who to root for.
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1:00 pm ET
Go Buccaneers! While this NFC South showdown has no direct impact on the Patriots and their playoff fortunes, Tampa Bay is the way to go here because of two men: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Go Texans! A Houston victory is the preferred outcome for New England for two reasons: 1.) It would improve the Patriots’ strength of schedule and possibly strength of victory tiebreakers, and 2.) It would weaken another team in hunt for a wild card playoff spot.
Go Lions! Just like Buccaneers-Panthers this game has little impact on New England, but fans should still root for Detroit. Not only does the team have plenty of ex-Patriots on its payroll, a Football Team loss might also eventually help when it comes to draft positioning: the New York Jets are currently on the road to the number one draft pick next year, and every team that can prevent this is one New England should root for.
Go Jaguars! This is the same reason as listed above. A Jaguars loss could be beneficial in the grand scheme of things.
Go Eagles! Once again, draft pick considerations are why the Patriots and their fans should root for the Eagles — or rather, against the Giants. Sorry, Joe Judge.
4:05 pm ET
Go Cardinals! This is pretty easy: if the Patriots want to have any chance at defending their AFC East title, they need the Bills to start losing some games. The game in Arizona is a prime opportunity — and one that could simultaneously improve New England’s strength of victory tiebreaker, if all goes according to plan in Week 12.
Go Broncos! A tough decision between the Broncos and Raiders, two teams that are also very much in the hunt for a wildcard playoff spot. That said, the nod goes to the team with the worse record at the moment — even though it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against New England, as opposed to Las Vegas.
Go Chargers! The reasoning behind rooting for L.A. is essentially the same as it is in the Bills-Cardinals game. A Chargers victory might help the Patriots get closer to the Dolphins in the standings, while it also might improve New England’s strength of victory tiebreaker: the Patriots visit Los Angeles in Week 13.
4:25 pm ET
Go Rams! Strength of victory also comes into play here: the Patriots have already lost against the Seahawks in Week 2, but still have the Rams on their schedule. An L.A. win today, plus a New England win over the team in Week 12 would be the best outcome.
Go Bengals! While the Bengals are theoretically also in the hunt for a wild card playoff spot, they are the team to root for in this game just to see the Steelers lose a game. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that bring joy in life.
Go 49ers! New England was blown out by San Francisco in Week 7, but a 49ers win would still impact their strength of schedule tiebreaker — one that might become important once the AFC’s playoff seeds are decided.