The NFL has moved part of its schedule to Saturday, with college football now out of the way for the rest of the season. Things kick off in Week 15 with a triple header—all of which are annoyingly on NFL Network.
Also semi-annoying: five of the six teams playing on Saturday hail from the AFC, meaning there aren’t a ton of stakes for Detroit Lions fans watching at home. Really, these games only have a tangential impact on the Lions—both in terms of playoff position and order in the NFL Draft.
But just in case you don’t play fantasy football and you’re not a gambler, I’ll map out the minor stakes involved in each game to give you a rooting interest for this 10+ hour stretch of Saturday football.
Here’s your rooting guide for Saturday, December 17:
Colts (4-8-1) vs. Vikings (10-3) — 1 p.m. ET — NFL Network
For playoff hopes, root for: Vikings
I know the general rule of thumb is to root for AFC over NFC, and I know there are some of you who are holding out hope that the Vikings lose out and the Lions win out, giving the NFC crown to Detroit. If that’s your dream, go with it. But Minnesota’s schedule is pie (Giants, Packers, Bears). They’re going to get a win. Let’s live in reality here.
The reason you want the Vikings to actually win this game is because you need to keep the Philadelphia Eagles hungry. The Eagles currently hold a two-game lead over the Vikings for the coveted one-seed (the only seed that gets a bye). Why do we need to keep the Eagles motivated? Because they play the Giants in the final week of the season, and that’s one team the Lions desperately need to lose as many games as possible. We need the Eagles to need that game.
This is the exact reason why you’re also going to have to be a Cowboys fan the rest of the way. Dallas is also two games back of the Eagles, so if they can apply pressure for the NFC East crown, that would be plenty of motivation for the Eagles to play hard through the entire regular season.
For draft position, root for: Colts
Indianapolis is a dangerous team to jump the Rams (4-9) if Los Angeles wins one more game. That said, the Colts have a couple winnable games down the stretch (Giants, Texans), so if they don’t pick up this upset, no biggie.
Ravens (9-4) vs. Browns (5-8) — 4:30 p.m. ET — NFL Network
For playoff hopes, root for: Browns
Obviously, two AFC teams barely have any impact on the NFC playoff race, but the Browns do have an upcoming game against those pesky Commanders. The Browns’ playoff odds are beyond longshot, but if they can get on a little hot streak, maybe it gives them some extra confidence to take down the Commanders in Week 17.
For draft position, root for: Browns
Cleveland is one of seven 5-8 teams in the league—all of whom pose a threat to the Rams’ draft pick position if LA tallies a fifth win.
Dolphins (8-5) vs. Bills (10-3) — 8:15 p.m. ET — NFL Network
Just enjoy this game. There aren’t any stakes related to the Lions here. Neither of these teams play an NFC contender the rest of the way, and there aren’t really any draft pick stakes, either. I suppose if you’re worried about where the Lions’ own pick stands, you want the Dolphins to win so Detroit doesn’t catch them, but that’s an extreme stretch.
Instead, kick your feet back on Saturday night and enjoy what should be a great AFC East matchup.