Who To Root For In Week 15 And Why


The Ravens control their own destiny to get into the playoffs this year.

But they do need some help if they're going to win the AFC North for the second time in three years.

As you watch the Ravens take on Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m., here is where your rooting interests should lie as you're scoreboard watching.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) at Atlanta Falcons (5-8) 1 p.m. Root for: Atlanta

This is an easy game, in terms of rooting interests. The Steelers are tied with the Ravens in the standings, but they have the edge in the division race. If the Ravens and Steelers both won out to finish 11-5, then the Steelers would take the AFC North crown because of a better division record. Having Pittsburgh fall this week to Atlanta would put the Ravens in good position for both the division and the wild-card race. Even though the Falcons are just 5-8 on the year, they still have plenty on the line because they are tied for first place in the NFC South. They need a win to continue their playoff push, and they could benefit from playing at home.

Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) at Cleveland Browns (7-6) 1 p.m. Root for: Cleveland

The Bengals have to lose another game if the Ravens are going to win the AFC North this year, and the Ravens hope quarterback Johnny Manziel can lead Cleveland to a victory in his first professional start. The Browns are still fighting for a playoff spot, and they made the bold move this week by turning to the rookie at quarterback. The former Heisman Trophy winner was one of the most electrifying players throughout his college career, and the Ravens are hoping for some of that mojo to carry into the NFL this weekend.

Oakland Raiders (2-11) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) 1 p.m. Root for: Oakland

The Raiders just pulled off a big upset last week against the San Francisco 49ers, and maybe they can make it two in a row. The Chiefs are coming off a loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and this week is a must-win game for them to stay alive in the playoff race.  An Oakland victory is a long shot, but it would give the Ravens a little breathing room in the wild-card race.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) at New England Patriots (10-3) 1 p.m. Root for: New England

The Ravens just knocked off the Dolphins last Sunday, and now Baltimore fans should root for the Patriots to hand Miami back-to-back losses. Ravens fans love to root against Tom Brady and the Patriots, but this is a good week for them to win because the likelihood is slim for the Ravens to catch them in the AFC standings. If the Patriots can take down the Dolphins, then that would knock off one of Baltimore's top contenders for a wild-card spot.

Green Bay Packers (10-3) at Buffalo Bills (7-6) 1 p.m. Root for: Green Bay

The Packers are one of the hottest teams in football, and the Ravens hope that continues for the trip to Buffalo. Buffalo is currently on the outside looking in of the AFC playoff race, but they are just a game behind the Ravens in the standings. It would benefit Baltimore to see an NFC team knock the Bills back in the race.

Houston Texans (7-6) at Indianapolis Colts (9-4) 1 p.m. Root for:  Indianapolis

The Texans started the season slow, but they have suddenly crept into the playoff picture. Ravens fans should root for a Colts victory here for the same reason they want the Patriots to win. The Colts are ahead of the Ravens in the AFC standings, but the better bet for Baltimore is to see wild-card contenders lose. The Ravens also have to travel to Houston next week, and it would be good to have a little breathing room in the wild-card race going into that matchup.

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