The New England Patriots will try to get back to .500 today against the Los Angeles Chargers, 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 Texans! With the Colts in direct competition with the Patriots for one of the AFC’s three wild card playoff spots, a Texans win would be the preferred outcome — one that could possibly bring New England within one game of Indianapolis
Go good game! The game itself has little actual impact on the AFC’s playoff picture, so Patriots fans can just root for an entertaining contest.
Go Bengals! The Dolphins are in direct competition with the Patriots for the second spot in the AFC East and one of the wild card spots. Needless to say that an unlikely Cincinnati win is what New England will be rooting for.
Go Jets! They probably won’t be able to pull it off given that they are still winless, but a Jets victory would be the best-case scenario from the Patriots’ perspective: the Raiders are in direct competition with New England for a wild card berth, and the Patriots are holding the tiebreaker due to their Week 3 win.
Go Vikings! The rooting interest in this game is tied solely to the 2021 draft: a Jaguars loss in combination with a Jets win would make things plenty interesting in the race for the number one overall draft pick next spring — possibly keeping New York from getting it.
Go Falcons! With the Raiders having beaten the Saints but not the Falcons earlier this year, an Atlanta win is the preferred outcome from New England’s perspective: Las Vegas’ strength of victory tiebreaker would take a hit with a Falcons win.
Go Titans! While the Titans appear to be on their way to winning the AFC South, the Browns are fighting for a wild card spot. They are in a comfortable position, but a loss today would still make things interesting — possibly also for the Patriots.
4:05 pm ET
Go Cardinals! New England’s strength of victory tiebreaker would benefit from an Arizona victory: the Patriots have already beaten the Cardinals, while the game against the Rams is still TBD.
Go Seahawks! A Seahawks win would not help the Patriots’ strength of victory tiebreaker, but their strength of schedule. So, rooting for the home team is the way to go.
4:25 pm ET
Go Eagles! The Packers lost against the Colts, the Eagles lost against the Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. Strength of victory tiebreakers will be impacted either way, with no winner necessarily a better one from New England’s point of view. However, the Patriots do hold head-to-head over Baltimore and with Cleveland possibly too far ahead already an Eagles win appears to be the preferable outcome — one that would in a vacuum improve New England’s playoff odds by one percent from 13 to 14.
8:20 pm ET
Go Chiefs! One of New England’s competitors for the wild card playoffs, the Raiders, already beat the Broncos earlier this year and went 1-1 against the Chiefs. A Kansas City victory would therefore be better for the Patriots — no matter how weird rooting for the team might feel.