The New England Patriots will try to win their third straight game to get their record back to .500 against the Houston Texans on Sunday, but they will also keep an indirect eye on the other games taking place. With the playoff picture shaping up, New England’s rooting interests become more important every week. With that being said...
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1:00 pm ET
Go Titans! This is a lose-lose scenario with both teams in the playoff race. However, the Patriots hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Baltimore, which means that New England would get the nod if both teams finish with the same record. In that case, rooting against the Ravens is the way to go.
Go good game! While the game does have some minor impact on the AFC playoff race’s tiebreakers, there really is no clear rooting interest here.
Go Eagles! This is another classic case of “rooting against the AFC wild card contender.” In this case, it’s the Browns, who are currently the ninth seed in the conference — one spot ahead of the Patriots.
Go good game! Another NFC matchup that has little actual impact on the Patriots and their standing in the playoff race, so rooting for an entertaining contest is the way to go.
Go Football Team! While the Bengals are not real threat to make the playoffs at 2-6-1, a loss could help them in the race for the number one draft pick next year.
Go Steelers! While rooting for Pittsburgh seems unnatural, there is a reason behind this madness: another Jaguars loss helps them stay very much alive in the race for the number one draft pick in the NFL — one that currently belongs to the Patriots’ division rivals from New York.
4:05 pm ET
Go Broncos! Miami is a direct competitor for the playoffs as the current owners of the sixth seed. Needless to say that a loos against Denver would be highly beneficial for a Patriots team that already holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dolphins and will go up against them for a second time in Week 15.
Go Jets! Rooting for the Jets? Yes, indeed, because a win would hurt their chances at ending up with the number one overall draft pick next spring.
4:25 pm ET
Go Packers! The Colts are currently leading the AFC South and in possession of the fourth postseason seed in the conference, but them losing against Green Bay is still the preferred outcome just to give New England more options at eventually sneaking into the playoff picture again.
Go Vikings! While the game has no real impact on the playoff picture in the Patriots’ conference, a Dallas loss would improve the standing of the sixth-round draft pick the Cowboys sent to New England last year in return for defensive lineman Michael Bennett.
8:20 pm ET
Go Chiefs! It may feel dirty, but Patriots fans should root for Kansas City on Sunday Night Football. The reason is pretty straight-forward: the Raiders own the fifth playoff seed in the AFC at the moment, and a loss would help New England’s odds to eventually pass them in the standings. The Patriots, after all, hold the head-to-head tiebreaker after beating Las Vegas earlier during the season.