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NFL Week 12 Detroit Lions rooting guide

Yes, it’s time to put your rooting hat on.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions are off this Sunday, which means there’s an entire slate of NFL games to watch without worrying if the team is going to lose this week. Many will choose to watch the games with their fantasy teams in mind, while others may choose to skip the day of what appears to be underwhelming matchups.

But if you’re still interested in watching football because... well, because we only have a few more weeks like this left, we’ve got something for you.

Our Detroit Lions rooting guide is back, but this time it’s going to be a little different. Seeing as the Lions are currently 4-7 with little chance of making the playoffs, the rooting guide will provide two different outlooks: one for you optimists out there and one for those pivoting to the draft already. For each of these matchups, I will provide the team to root for that helps the Lions’ playoff chances and the team to root for to improve the Lions’ draft position.

Jaguars (3-7) at Bills (3-7) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Bills

This is really a toss up on who to root for. I chose the Bills, ultimately, because I think the Jaguars are the team more likely to string together a few meaningless wins before the season is over, even though Josh Allen is expected to return to the Bills this week. The Bills also currently have the easier strength of schedule, meaning they hold an important tiebreaker should the Lions finish with the same record.

Browns (3-6-1) at Bengals (5-5) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Browns

While it looks like the Bengals are ready to fall off the face of the Earth—having lost four of their last five games—the Browns are still the less talented team here. A win by the Browns would bump the Lions up at least one spot in the draft position ranks.

Patriots (7-3) at Jets (3-7) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Jets

This is an easy one. The Jets are going to be a real contender for a top 10 pick. It’s worth noting that Detroit’s loss to the Jets will not affect any tiebreakers in draft order. The order is simply based on overall record with strength of schedule being the sole tiebreaker (easiest schedule gets the higher pick).

Giants (3-7) at Eagles (4-6) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for (playoffs): Giants
Who to root for (draft position): Giants

This one aligns nicely. The Giants are of no real threat to make the playoffs, and while the Eagles appear to be in free fall, their chances of picking higher than Detroit seem unlikely.

This game has a third reason to root for the Giants, too! The worse the Eagles do, the better the Lions’ third-round pick from the Golden Tate trade becomes. Sorry, Golden, but it’s a business.

49ers (2-8) at Buccaneers (3-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A, these teams aren’t making the playoffs
Who to root for (draft position): Buccaneers

I’m going to go a little counterintuitive here, and say the Lions aren’t going to catch the 49ers in their hunt for a top five pick. San Francisco has a brutal schedule ahead (Seahawks twice, Rams, Bears). They’re unlikely to finish any better than 4-12.

However, the Buccaneers have remained competitive and could be catchable for the Lions. A win by Tampa Sunday could really give Detroit a shot to jump them in the draft order.

Seahawks (5-5) at Panthers (6-4) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for (playoffs): Panthers
Who to root for (draft position): Seahawks

This is a tough one for the playoff race. While you obviously want the better teams to lose and Carolina has a better record, the tiebreaker is what tips the scales. The Lions beat the Panthers, but lost to the Seahawks. Neither team is going to win their division, meaning both will be in the playoff race. The Lions’ best bet is that the Panthers win one of those spots, while everyone else tanks.

As for draft position, it’s as simple as rooting for the team with the worse record.

Raiders (2-8) at Ravens (5-5) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Raiders

Root for the team with the worse record. That was easy.

Cardinals (2-8) at Chargers (7-3) — 4:05 p.m. ET — FOX

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (Cardinals not making the playoffs, y’all)
Who to root for (draft position): Cardinals

It’s unlikely the Lions catch the Cardinals in terms of draft order, but a win in Week 12 by Arizona would be a big first step. A Week 14 matchup between the two teams could be HUGE... in terms of jockeying for draft position.

Steelers (7-2-1) at Broncos (4-6) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Broncos

Pretty simple here, too. The Steelers are headed for the playoffs, the Broncos are headed for a potential top 10 pick.

Dolphins (5-5) at Colts (5-5) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Dolphins

This is a matter of opinion, but I think the Colts—winners of four straight—are more likely to compete for the playoffs than the Dolphins—losers of three of their last four games.

So the Dolphins pose the biggest threat to a draft position. Root for them to move to 6-5.

Packers (4-5-1) at Vikings (5-4-1) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC

Who to root for (playoffs): Packers
Who to root for (draft position): Packers

UGH. Don’t make me do this.

A Packers win bumps them to 5-5-1, but more importantly drops the Vikings to 5-5-1. While a tiebreaker scenario is unlikely considering both teams have a tie, the Lions hold the edge of Green Bay but not Minnesota. Overall, I still considerin the Vikings the better team, so a Minny loss serves the Lions better for the postseason.

As for draft position, again, I think the Vikings are a better team than the Packers. The Vikes won’t challenge the Lions for draft position, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the Packers do.

However, if you’re rooting for the Vikings just to avoid another December dominated by AARON RODGERS COMEBACK coverage, I can’t blame you.

Titans (5-5) at Texans (7-3) — (Monday) 8:15 p.m. ET — ESPN

Who to root for (playoffs): N/A (AFC)
Who to root for (draft position): Titans

Root for the team with the worse record, and the Texans are red hot right now. Lions fans don’t have to worry about them.