The Detroit Lions are once again in sole possession of first place in the NFC North, and they are nearing their first division title in 20 years. This week, the Lions will look to take another step toward the NFC North crown when they play at the Philadelphia Eagles. Aside from the Lions, which teams should you root for this week? Here's our Week 14 rooting guide:
Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) | 1 p.m., FOX
Since Aaron Rodgers got hurt, the Packers have looked lost. I could go for another week of that, especially when you consider that a Packers loss could help put the Lions in position to clinch the division in Week 15.
Root for: Falcons
Dallas Cowboys (7-5) at Chicago Bears (6-6) | 8:30 p.m., ESPN (Monday night)
On top of beating Philly and having the Packers lose, the Lions also need a Bears loss in the next two weeks to be in position to clinch in Week 15. Dallas actually plays Green Bay in Week 15, so Lions fans will be squarely behind the Cowboys these next two weeks.
Root for: Cowboys
St. Louis Rams (5-7) at Arizona Cardinals (7-5) | 4:25 p.m., FOX
Winning the NFC North is the top priority for the Lions, but just in case things don't work out, we shouldn't forget about the wild card. With that in mind, a Rams win would be helpful in taking the Cardinals down another notch in the wild-card race. Hopefully this whole section for the wild card will prove to be irrelevant, but you never know.
Root for: Rams
Seattle Seahawks (11-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-4) | 4:25 p.m., FOX
Again, in case the wild card needs to be used as a backup plan, it's best for the teams in the mix to lose going forward. With the Seahawks already set to wrap up home-field advantage anyway, a 49ers win wouldn't do the Lions any good.
Root for: Seahawks
Carolina Panthers (9-3) at New Orleans Saints (9-3) | 8:30 p.m., NBC
At this point, it's highly unlikely that the Lions will make a run at the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, so let's start to think about the big picture. If the Panthers beat the Saints, Carolina will take over the No. 2 seed. If everything else holds and the Lions continue to be the No. 3 seed, they would be set to host the 49ers in the wild-card round. A Lions victory would then send them on the road to take on the Panthers in the next round. A road game against the Panthers sounds a lot better than having to take on a pass-heavy team like the Saints at the Superdome, so I'd rather have Carolina take the No. 2 spot.
Root for: Panthers
If the Lions beat the Eagles on Sunday and everything else goes according to plan, the NFC playoff picture will look like this going into Week 15:
- Seattle Seahawks (12-1)
- Carolina Panthers (10-3)
- Detroit Lions (8-5)
- Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
- New Orleans Saints (9-4)
- San Francisco 49ers (8-5)
- Philadelphia Eagles (7-6)
- Arizona Cardinals (7-6)
- St. Louis Rams (6-7)
- Chicago Bears (6-7)
- Green Bay Packers (5-7-1)
Bye: Seahawks, Panthers | Wild-card round: Lions vs. 49ers, Cowboys vs. Saints
Really, the key thing is simply for the Lions to beat the Eagles. Not only would that help them get even closer to the NFC North title, but it would keep them third in the NFC and give them the head-to-head tiebreaker over another top team from the NFC East.