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Games To Watch Sunday, Who To Root For

Posted Dec 14, 2013

Here's a look at some of the games in the league that could impact the AFC playoff picture.

When the Ravens take the field Monday night against the Detroit Lions, they will have the benefit of knowing exactly where they stand in the AFC playoff picture.

They will also have the luxury of watching some other games around the NFL this weekend as they travel to Detroit Sunday afternoon.

With a thin lead in the wild-card race, the Ravens will likely keep a close eye on some of the other scores around the league.

Here’s a look at the games that could impact the Ravens and who to root for on Sunday:

Patriots (10-3) at Dolphins (7-6), 1 p.m.

The Patriots could clinch the AFC East with a win over the Dolphins this weekend, and they are now in play for the AFC’s top spot after Denver’s loss to San Diego Thursday night. The Patriots are riding a three-game winning streak and the Dolphins have won two straight, and both teams have playoff implications on the line.
Who To Root For: Patriots. The Dolphins currently have the same record as the Ravens and appear to be the biggest threat in the wild-card race. A win by New England would potentially give the Ravens a one-game advantage in the playoff race with two weeks to play.

Bengals (9-4) at Steelers (5-8), 8:30 p.m.

The AFC North rivals square off on Sunday Night Football, and the Steelers have a chance to be the spoiler. The Bengals have a two-game advantage over the Ravens in the division race, and they are also still in the hunt for a first-round bye. The Steelers are out of the playoff race, but they still have a chance to knock the Bengals back and put them within striking distance for the Ravens.
Who To Root For: Steelers. It always seems odd for Ravens fans to cheer on the black-and-gold, but a Pittsburgh victory could put the Ravens right back in the division race with a Ravens-Bengals matchup looming in Week 17. The bright side of a potential Cincinnati victory is it may not have anything to play for and could choose to rest its starters against the Ravens.

Jets (6-7) at Panthers (9-4)

The Jets still have a sliver of hope in the playoff race after a win over the Oakland Raiders last week. They will face a hot Carolina Panthers team that is also fighting for playoff position, and a win by Carolina would knock the Jets out of the race with two games to play.
Who To Root For: Panthers. While the Jets are longshots to make the postseason, it’s best just to eliminate them from the competition.

Chiefs (10-3) vs. Raiders (4-9)

This game has little direct impact on the Ravens, as the Chiefs have already locked up at least a wild-card spot. But the Chiefs are also contending for the AFC West title after the Broncos (11-3) lost to the Chargers (7-7).
Who To Root For: Chiefs.  Keeping the Chiefs in contention for a first-round bye could be beneficial to the Ravens in the coming weeks. The Chiefs and Chargers square off in Week 17, and if Kansas City has nothing to gain in that game then they could rest their starters. However, they may have a shot to win the division in the regular-season finale, so then they would go for the win and potentially knock the Chargers out of contention for the No. 6 seed.

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