The Pride of Detroit Rooting Guide is back for a week. This isn’t going to become a weekly thing quite yet, as the playoff picture is still quite muddled. It’s hard to know which teams to root for, because we’re still trying to find out who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.
But seeing as the Detroit Lions are off this week, we may as well provide you with some sort of rooting guide. Aside from fantasy implications, there really isn’t that much to be invested in these Week 5 games, unless you take a way-too-early look at the playoff picture.
This year’s set of rooting guides should be a little more interesting than years past. Because of the Lions’ Week 1 tie, there’s a good chance that tiebreakers won’t factor into Detroit’s playoff picture, unless another NFC team ties this year.
With all that in mind, here are the teams you should be rooting for in Week 5 of the NFL.
Who to root for: Bengals
Unless you want more 0-16 teams on record, you always root for AFC over NFC, even if the Cardinals are an extreme long shot to make the postseason.
Who to root for: Raiders
This is a big one. A loss by the Bears, and Detroit jumps them in the standings.
Buccaneers (2-2) at Saints (3-1)
Who to root for: Buccaneers
You could really make the case for either team. If your goal is simply the playoffs, you should probably root for the Saints, as the Bucs are more likely to be the team jockeying for a wild card spot.
However, it’s early in the season. Let’s aim for higher goals than that. If Detroit is aiming for an elusive home game and potentially a bye week—yeah, I know how crazy that sounds—the Saints are going to have to tally some losses before Drew Brees comes back.
Who to root for: Giants
Kick the Vikings while they’re down, please.
Who to root for: Jets
While some of you would like to see the Eagles with a winning record so that Stafford has another road win against a winning team, don’t let the narratives affect what is truly important. Detroit’s tiebreaker over the Eagles isn’t likely going to mean anything. They’ll need to finish with more wins (or fewer losses).
Patriots (4-0) at Washington (0-4)
Who to root for: Washington
I am breaking my AFC over NFC rules because Washington poses no threat and I can’t bring myself to root for the Patriots.
Who to root for: Jaguars
I have no idea what to make of the Panthers this year, but their record pattern suggests this will be a good year for them, so keep with the AFC over NFC tradition.
Who to root for: Texans
The Falcons are having a sad right now. Make them even sadder, Deshaun Watson.
Who to root for: Chargers
I normally avoid AFC vs. AFC games, but if Los Angeles loses to a winless Broncos team, it will certainly alter the look of Detroit’s Week 2 win over the Chargers.
Who to root for: Swallow your vomit and GO COWBOYS
I know this is hard. Maybe you want to root for a 0-0 tie, and I wouldn’t blame you for that. But division over everything, so the logical choice here is Dallas, even though I hate it just as much as you do. A Bears and Packers loss in Week 5 catapults the Lions into first place without having to lift a finger. Winning the division is the primary goal, and if you have to sell your soul to do it, so be it.
Who to root for: Browns
The 49ers are quietly the only remaining undefeated team in the NFC, and it’s no fluke, either. They have the second highest point differential in the conference (+42) and they’ve only played three games. The NFC West division could very well send a few teams into the playoffs, so the more early losses the better.
If everything goes the right way...
Here’s what the NFC North would look like if all these outcomes fell in Detroit’s favor:
1. Detroit Lions (2-1-1)
t-2. Green Bay Packers (3-2)
t-2. Chicago Bears (3-2)
4. Minnesota Vikings (2-3)
As for the entire NFC conference, here’s what that would look like:
(Note: I am not bothering with tiebreakers this early in the season)
The Lions would jump into the three-seed—as a division leader—despite having a worse record than the 49ers, who would just barely trail the 4-1 Seahawks in the NFC West with a 3-1 record. This would create a huge logjam in the middle of the NFC, with 11 teams in the conference having either two or three wins.