Patriots Bye Week: Rooting Interests for Every Week 10 Game

Samer IsmailAnalyst IINovember 10, 2013

Patriots Bye Week: Rooting Interests for Every Week 10 Game

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The New England Patriots, after shellacking the Pittsburgh Steelers 55–31 in Week 9, are enjoying their much-needed bye week. They will return to action on Monday Night Football in Week 11 against the Carolina Panthers (Monday, Nov. 18, 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN).

    But, just because the Patriots have the week off doesn't mean that Patriots fans should take the week off. There are rooting interests in nearly every game this week. Let's take a look at each game and see who Patriots fans should root for.

    Note: All stats on playoff probabilities are taken from

Philadelphia Eagles (4–5) at Green Bay Packers (5–3)

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

    Who to root for: Green Bay


    Admittedly, there's not much to root for here. But the Patriots do own the Philadelphia Eagles' sixth-round draft pick, so an Eagles loss helps New England in the 2014 NFL draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0–8) at Tennessee Titans (4–4)

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    Who to root for: Jacksonville


    It's hard not to root for Jacksonville to at least get one win so they don't have to join the Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0–16.

    More importantly, though, the Tennessee Titans have a safety by the name of Bernard Pollard.

    Yes, that Bernard Pollard.

    If Patriots fans ruled the world, Bernard Pollard would probably be on a one-way trip to Alpha Centauri at this point. Keeping him as far away from the Patriots as possible is a good thing.

Buffalo Bills (3–6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2–6)

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    Who to root for: Steelers


    The first rule of rooting for the Patriots is "take care of the division first." The Bills are a divisional foe, while the Steelers have just a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs. Even winning the game would only increase their chances of making the playoffs to 2 percent.

Oakland Raiders (3–5) at New York Giants (2–6)

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    Who to root for: Oakland


    After the last few years, Patriots fans should want no part of the Giants in the playoffs. Since another loss hurts their already poor chances of making the playoffs (just 5 percent), Patriots fans should root for Oakland. (For what it's worth, the Patriots probably do owe the Raiders something after the Randy Moss trade.)

St. Louis Rams (3–6) at Indianapolis Colts (6–2)

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    Michael Thomas/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

    Who to root for: St. Louis


    For the first time since the 2002 realignment, the Patriots aren't playing the Colts this year. So they can only get indirect help when competing with Indianapolis for a first-round bye. A Rams win, as improbable as it might be (ESPN's analysts unanimously picked the Colts), will help the Patriots immensely.

Seattle Seahawks (8–1) at Atlanta Falcons (2–6)

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

    Who to root for: Atlanta (just barely)


    This is one of the only games where there really is no clear rooting interest for New England. When in doubt, it's generally better to root for the underdog, so the Falcons get the nod here.

Cincinnati Bengals (6–3) at Baltimore Ravens (3–5)

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

    Who to root for: Baltimore


    The second rule for being a Patriots fan is "After taking care of the division, aim for a first-round bye." The Bengals are competing with the Patriots for a first-round bye and currently own the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England as a result of their 13–6 win in Week 5.

    Another Bengals loss would give the Patriots a bit more breathing room.

Detroit Lions (5–3) at Chicago Bears (5–3)

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

    Who to root for: Tie


    This is truly the least important game for Patriots fans. Two NFC teams in a divisional matchup with identical records. Even the ESPN experts are split here.

    On the one hand, the Lions have Ndamukong Suh, who Forbes found to be one of the most disliked NFL players; on the other hand, the Chicago Bears are the Chicago Bears. So root for the tie.

Carolina Panthers (5–3) at San Francisco 49ers (6–2)

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox

    Who to root for: Carolina


    The Panthers play the Patriots next week. In the grand scheme of things, Patriots fans should probably wish for a Panthers team fresh off an upset win rather than a Panthers team smarting from a loss.

Houston Texans (2–6) at Arizona Cardinals (4–4)

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

    Who to root for: Arizona


    The third rule of rooting for Patriots fans is "When in doubt, root for NFC teams over AFC teams." Yes, the Houston Texans are struggling this season—right now, they have just a 2 percent chance of making the playoffs—but they could go on a hot streak.

Denver Broncos (7–1) at San Diego Chargers (4–4)

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

    Who to root for: San Diego


    The fourth rule of rooting for the Patriots is "Never root for Peyton Manning." And although they are in a tough battle for the division with Kansas City, the more losses the Broncos have, the better it is for New England.

    And, oh yeah, the Chargers have Danny Woodhead (not "Danny Woodcock").

Dallas Cowboys (5–4) at New Orleans Saints (6–2)

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

    Who to root for: Dallas


    Sorry, Saints fans. While it's easy to root for the Saints in this Battle of the No. 9s, keeping the New York Giants out of the playoffs is far more important. Of course, the Saints are favored, so the upset isn't likely, but it still helps the Patriots more.

Miami Dolphins (4–4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0–8)

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Who to root for: Comedy

    OK, who to root for, really: Tampa Bay


    Welcome to Dysfunction Bowl! How dysfunctional are the Dolphins right now, in the wake of the Incognito/Martin fiasco? analysts have them as underdogs against winless Tampa Bay, who managed to blow a 21–0 lead to Seattle last week.

    This game has the potential to be the most absurd football game the Dolphins have played since their 3–0 loss to Pittsburgh (also on Monday Night Football) in 2007. But the Dolphins are still conceivably a threat to the Patriots' chances of the division win, so root for the Buccaneers to get their first win of the season.