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 8, the San Francisco 49ers are on a bye, which means we will be able to focus on the rest of the league today and tomorrow.
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.
This is the first time in a while the Seahawks have not been at the top of our list. The 49ers are only a half game up on the Seahawks, but at a game and a half back of the Cardinals, this is a huge one to consider. The Cardinals best win this season was over the 49ers. They face a strong 5-1 Eagles squad, and this could actually end up being the best game of the day. A lot of people are picking Philly in this, but it's a toss-up in my mind. I honestly have no idea who will win this one. But I know who I am rooting for!
Rooting interest: Eagles
2. Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks find themselves in the midst of a 2-game losing streak and need to get on track. A loss on the road to the Panthers would not end their playoff hopes by any stretch of the imagination, but they would face a serious uphill climb from 3-4. The Seahawks have not lost three straight games since 2011. The Panthers are scuffling, but they remain a talented enough team that this is not a bad loss in the general sense. But when you've dropped to 3-3 and have a lot of speculation coming out of the locker room, this kind of loss could be a bad tipping point. I'd be down with that!
Rooting interest: Panthers
Normally I'd be rooting for the Packers to help bury the Saints. New Orleans is 2-4, and find themselves hanging around in a bad NFC South. Rather than bury the Saints, I'd rather the Saints win and bring the Packers down a notch. The Packers are 5-2, and tied with the Lions at the top of NFC North. A loss would drop the Packers into a position where the 49ers could move into a tie with them in the wild card. I suppose there isn't a HUGE wild card race in Week 8, but it is still something to track.
Rooting interest: Saints
4. Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons
This game is actually already underway, thanks to the crazy early kickoff time in London. The Falcons sit at 2-5, and their only real playoff hope is going to be the abysmal NFC South. Just like I want to see the Packers lose, a Lions loss would help the 49ers. It means we would see a pair of 5-3 teams at the top of the NFC North, instead of a pair of 6-2 teams (or at least one 6-2 team). The 49ers do not play the Lions or the Packers this season, so losses also would not hurt any potential strength of schedule tiebreakers.
Rooting interest: Falcons
5. Washington @ Dallas Cowboys
The NFC East is suddenly looking pretty interesting. The 49ers have won their first two games against the division, beating the Cowboys and Eagles. That would prove huge for the 49ers in a potential tiebreaker for a wild card berth, or even home field through the playoffs. The Cowboys are playing good football, even as people continue to wait for the second half collapse. Maybe Washington will get that started!
Rooting interest: Washington
The Bears are 3-4, sitting a game back of the 49ers in the wild card race. Even if the Bears went on a winning streak, they would be in a tough fight in their division. Instead, I would be fine with the Patriots burying them this week.
Rooting interest: Patriots
The Rams are 2-4, and coming off a big win over the Seattle Seahawks. They travel to face the 49ers next week, and I'd prefer they not come in on a 2-game win streak. The 49ers can beat them either way, but no need to give the Rams some unnecessary confidence!
Rooting interest: Chiefs