The New England Patriots may be on their bye this week, but that does not mean their fans have nobody to root for in Week 14. After all, with the NFL’s playoff picture starting to take shape a lot of matchups also could have an impact on New England.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at our Patriots Rooting Guide for today!
1:00 p.m. ET
Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Cleveland Browns (6-6): Go Browns! Cleveland beating its division rivals would not just improve the Patriots’ strength of victory tiebreaker, it also would keep the Ravens at bay in the race for the number one playoff seed in the AFC. | CBS
New Orleans Saints (5-7) at New York Jets (3-9): Go Jets! While rooting for New York goes against New England nature, they are our pick here. The team is no serious threat to make the playoffs or leapfrog the Patriots in the standings, but a win might hurt its draft position next spring a bit. | CBS
Atlanta Falcons (5-7) at Carolina Panthers (5-7): Go Panthers! Carolina sent its second-round draft selection next year to the Jets as part of the Sam Darnold trade. Every Panthers win might hurt the ultimate spot and thus value of the pick. | FOX
Seattle Seahawks (4-8) at Houston Texans (2-10): Go Texans! A Houston win would improve New England’s strength of victory, a tiebreaker that might become important in a tight AFC playoff race. That said, a case can be made for the Seahawks as well: they own Seattle’s first-rounder next year thanks to the Jamal Adams trade; the reasoning would therefore be the same as outlined above. | FOX
Las Vegas Raiders (6-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Go Raiders! The Chiefs are one of the best teams in football, and a loss would put some breathing room between them and the Patriots in the race for the top playoff seed in the AFC. | CBS
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) at Tennessee Titans (8-4): Go Jaguars! Jacksonville winning would be a major surprise, but one can hope. Anyway, a Titans loss would be welcome news to the Patriots in the race for the number one seed. That said, they do own the head-to-head tiebreaker. | CBS
Dallas Cowboys (8-4) at Washington Football Team (6-6): Go Cowboys! New England did not defeat Dallas in Week 6, but the strength of schedule tiebreaker is one that might come into play further down the line. That may be unlikely, but why take any chances? | FOX
4:05 p.m. ET
Detroit Lions (1-10-1) at Denver Broncos (6-6): Go Lions! The Broncos do have a case here as well — a win might help them get closer to the top of the AFC West in case Kansas City loses — rooting for the NFC squad versus the AFC playoff hopefuls is the way to go. As long as New England has not locked up it playoff spot, anything can still happen after all. | FOX
New York Giants (4-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (7-5): Go Giants! Direct competition trumps potential tiebreakers: the Chargers are a threat in the race for the AFC’s top seed despite the Patriots owning the head-to-head advantage, which is why New York is the way to go. It will hurt New England’s strength of victory number but it might be a sacrifice worth making. | FOX
4:25 p.m. ET
Buffalo Bills (7-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3): Go Buccaneers! The easiest game to root for this week. The Bills are the Patriots’ closest competition in the AFC East, and a loss versus Tom Brady and company would further help New England after it already won the first of two head-to-head meetings this year. | CBS