Welcome back to another week of the NFL rooting guide. Last year, as the playoffs were approaching, we took a look at the many games on the schedule, and discussed rooting interests for pertinent games. The playoffs are a long ways off, but heading into Week 7, there is plenty to watch for as the San Francisco 49ers get ready for Sunday Night Football later this evening.
Here is a rundown of games at least a little bit pertinent to the 49ers. Some have direct implications, while others are a bit more tangentially connected. Either way, I've included who I will be rooting for in the game. Feel free to offer your own suggestions. The games are ranked in order of importance as I see them.
NFC West rivals squaring off? Of course this is going to be at the top. The Seahawks head into St. Louis as a 6.5-point favorite, but this game has taken a bit of a swerve due to the trade of wide receiver Percy Harvin. He has not had a huge impact this season, but he has impacted the Seahawks play-calling. The question now is how the Seahawks offense adjusts. They are likely to simplify things to a certain extent, and that very well could benefit them. On the other hand, for at least this game, there is the question of what to make of the potential distraction. Marshawn Lynch was reportedly very unhappy with Harvin's trade. At the same time, he's one guy I could see just going out and doing his job come game-day. We'll see.
Rooting interest: If the Seahawks can make me root for the Cowboys, I think I can get behind the Rams!
The Raiders enter their second game under interim coach Tony Sparano. They gave the San Diego Chargers all they could handle last week, and the question for them is if they can maintain that. I'm not holding my breath on that, but maybe they can spring the upset. The Cardinals currently hold a half game lead on the 49ers for first place in the division, and have looked solid thus far.
Rooting interest: Go Raiders!
3. New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are 5-1 and tied with the Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East. The 49ers have a win in hand over Dallas, and face the Giants in November. The Cowboys are coming off a monster win in Seattle, but I am curious to see if they get tripped up in this divisional matchup. They are a 6-point favorite, but the Giants have fared fairly well in Dallas in recent years, going 4-1 ATS in their last five in Dallas. I would not be shocked by an upset, but maybe Dallas continues their strong start to 2014.
Rooting interest: Go Giants!
The Lions continue to hang around at the top of the NFC North, tied with the Packers at 4-2. Normally I would want to root for the lesser team to spring the upset, but I am at a point where I kind of want to see the Saints get buried in the NFC South. They are 2-3, a game back of the 3-2-1 Panthers. I am perfectly content seeing them slip down even further. I think they could still win that division, but as they lose more road games, they lose out on home field advantage opportunities beyond that.
Rooting interest: Go Lions!
This is a battle of division leaders, with the Panthers coming in with potential rare momentum off a tie. The Panthers looked dead in the water at times during overtime last week in Cincinnati. They held on to secure a tie, which on the road is certainly better than nothing. They face a Packers squad that has won three straight and is rolling along. I'm content seeing the Packers drop back behind the Lions at this point. I'm not entirely sure what to make of the Panthers, so who knows if this is a bit short-sighted.
Rooting interest: Go Panthers