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Who Patriots fans should root for in Week 15 games

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New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)AP

By Matt Vautour | mvautour@masslive.com

Despite winning last Thursday, the Patriots, at 3-10, are currently in the No. 2 playoff position, but the margin is razor thin.

 

If they want to get one of the top two quarterbacks – USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s

Drake Maye — who are expected to go first and second, they need a lot to go right in other games while continuing to lose..

 

There are several games this weekend that the Patriots have a vested interest in because the results could impact their draft situation.

Standard important reminder: Strength of schedule (SOS) is an early tie-breaker to differentiate teams with the same record.

A weaker schedule is good for a team that wants a higher draft pick. So if everything else is equal, the Patriots want teams who are on their 2023 schedule to lose.

 

Here’s how Patriots fans should be rooting in some key games this weekend:

 

Saturday

Denver (7-6) at Detroit (9-4) — This is simply a strength of schedule game for the Patriots, who’d benefit from the Broncos’ record getting worse. Root for: Lions.

 

 

Sunday

Atlanta (6-7) at Carolina (1-12) — More than likely this doesn’t matter. It’s nearly unfathomable that the Panthers get to three wins which is the only way this might matter.

But just in case: Root for: Panthers.

 

Chicago (5-8) at Cleveland (8-5), 1 p.m. — It would be good for the Patriots if the Bears moved a little further away from them. Root for: Bears

 

Houston (7-6) at Tennessee (5-8), 1 p.m. — Same as above.

Getting a little extra distance between New England and Tennessee would be good. Root for: Titans.

 

N.Y. Giants (5-8) at New Orleans (6-7) — The Giants are another five-win team, but they’re a little less threatening because they beat the Patriots head-to-head. Still better for New England if they win. Root for: Giants.

 

N.Y. Jets (5-8) at Miami (9-4), 1 p.m. — Sticking with the five-win teams, the Patriots could use a cushion from the Jets, who they beat once and play again. It’s a long shot, but… Root for: Jets.

 

San Francisco (10-3) Arizona (3-10) — There’s no team who the draft-pick-seeking Patriots fans are rooting for more than the Cardinals. This is a big ask, but… Root for: Cardinals.

 

Washington (4-9) L.A. Rams (6-7) — This is a big one. Washington is collapsing. The Patriots have the tie-breaker because of the Commanders’ head-to-head win, but it’s not worth taking chances. Root for: Commanders.

 

Dallas (10-3) at Buffalo (7-6) — This is just a strength of schedule scenario. The Patriots play the Bills twice and Dallas just once. So a Cowboy win helps bring down New England’s SOS. Root for: Cowboys

 

Monday’s Games

Philadelphia (10-3) at Seattle (6-7) — A Seattle win helps depress the Patriots’ strength of schedule and will make it nearly impossible for the Patriots to finish ahead of Seattle. Root for: Seahawks

 

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