The New England Patriots will not enter Week 13 until Monday — they will go up against the Buffalo Bills in a pivotal AFC East matchup. However, plenty of football worth keeping an eye on will still be played on Sunday.
So, who should Patriots fans root for? Glad you asked.
1:00 pm ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-6): Go Falcons! While rooting for Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski is usually the way to go, this game is different. An Atlanta victory, after all, would improve New England’s strength of victory tiebreaker. That might just come in handy when all is said and done. | FOX
Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4): Go Chargers! A Los Angeles win would be good news for the Patriots for two reasons: 1.) It would hurt another four-loss competitor in the AFC; 2.) It would improve New England’s strength of victory. | CBS
New York Giants (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-7): Go Giants! The Dolphins currently own the second longest winning streak in the NFL and have established themselves as a dark-horse playoff candidate. A loss would be welcome from New England’s point of view: the Patriots don’t need Miami to be a do-or-die opponent in Week 18. | FOX
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) at New York Jets (3-8): Go Jets! Sure, rooting for the Jets goes against what Patriots fans believe in but a win would be the best case scenario here: at 4-8, New York would further weaken its draft position for 2022. | CBS
Arizona Cardinals (9-2) at Chicago Bears (4-7): Go Cardinals! Why root for the Cardinals in this all-NFC matchup? Because a Bears loss might help them leapfrog the Jets in the draft standings. There really is no other reason. | FOX
Minnesota Vikings (5-6) at Detroit Lions (0-10-1): Go Vikings! Another rooting interest tied to the Jets (and possible Dolphins) competing for top draft picks next year. The Lions losing their 11th game this year would help them stay the course for the first overall draft pick. | CBS
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Houston Texans (2-9): Go Texans! Yes a Texans win might be beneficial to the Jets, but it would also hurt another AFC playoff competitor. Plus, the Colts losing is always a welcome sight in New England. | CBS
4:05 p.m. ET
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Los Angeles Rams (7-4): Go Jaguars! A Jacksonville win might have some adverse impact on the 2022 draft from New England’s perspective — it might help the Jets — but it would also improve the Patriots’ position next year: the team owns the Rams’ sixth-round pick from the Sony Michel trade. If all goes according to our rooting plan, though, it would not matter as the Jets would be 4-8 after this week anyway. | FOX
4:25 p.m. ET
San Francisco 49ers (6-5) at Seattle Seahawks (3-8): Go Seahawks! This is a tough one, because both the 49ers and the Seahawks have traded first-round draft picks next year to teams in the AFC East; the Dolphins and Jets, respectively. A San Francisco loss would benefit the Dolphins, while a Seahawks loss would benefit the Jets. Ultimately, though, we go with the team currently worse in the standings as the one to root for: if Seattle wins its first-round pick — owned by the Jets — may slide down a bit as a result. | CBS
8:20 p.m. ET
Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4): Go Broncos! A win over the Chiefs would help the Broncos overtake their division rivals in the standings, which would certainly be welcome news to the rest of the AFC. | NBC