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 9, things are really starting to heat up. The San Francisco 49ers are back from their bye, but there is plenty of important football around them.
1. St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
Once again, the Arizona Cardinals are at the top of the heap, this time hosting the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals have won four straight, including a big road win over the Dallas Cowboys last weekend. Meanwhile, the Rams are scuffling along, alternating wins and losses the last four weeks, and sitting at 3-5. The Rams usually play divisional opponents tough, so we'll see if they can give the Cardinals a run for their money.
Rooting interest: Rams
2. New York Giants @ Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks hold the last wild card spot for now, and sit a game up on the 49ers. The Seahawks offense has not exactly been an inspiring of late. They're 14th in scoring, but even last week against the Raiders, it felt like they should have been able to put up at least another couple touchdowns. The Giants have lost three straight, and after showing some things against the Cowboys, they were run over by the Colts. I don't anticipate this game ending well for them.
Rooting interest: Giants
3. Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
This could prove to be a fun Sunday Night Football contest. The Packers had no trouble with the Bears in Chicago earlier this year, so I am not holding my breath for a Bears upset at Lambeau. However, it is a divisional game, so you never know how it might play out. The Packers are tied with the Seahawks a game ahead of the 49ers. Seattle has the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Packers from their Week 1 win, while the 49ers will be left to rely on conference record (which is currently 5-1 for GB, 3-3 for SF).
Rooting interest: Bears
4. Dallas Cowboys @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Cowboys and Jaguars kick off in London, with Tony Romo listed as probable. I have zero faith in Brandon Weeden, but even if Romo did not play, I think DeMarco Murray would be enough for this Cowboys team to beat the Jaguars. The Cowboys are a half game up on the Seahawks and Packers for the 5th seed, and a game and a half up on the 49ers. San Francisco holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Dallas.
Rooting interest: Jaguars
5. Miami Dolphins @ Detroit Lions
This is an interesting one with both teams coming in riding three game winning streaks. The Lions welcome back Calvin Johnson who got the bye week to get his ankle a bit healthier. This is a huge game for both teams, with Detroit sitting a game up on Green Bay in the NFC North, and the Dolphins two games back in the AFC East and in the jumble for the final wild card spot. I think Lions win this one, but here's hoping for a Dolphins road upset.
Rooting interest: Dolphins
1. Arizona Cardinals (7-1)
2. Detroit Lions (6-2)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (6-2)
4. New Orleans Saints (4-4)
5. Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
6. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
7. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
8. San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
9. Minnesota Vikings (4-5)