The Baltimore Ravens won’t be playing a game this week as they are on their bye, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still have rooting interests in Week 8. While they are far from the outside looking in on the AFC playoff picture as it stands right now, currently slotted in the No. 5 seed, it’s never too early to root against the other top and legitimate contenders on the conference.
Root for: Jets
This may be the longest shot of the entire week. However, how poetic would it be if the Ravens legend Joe Flacco were to do his former employers a huge favor and pull off the upset of the season thus far? The former Super Bowl MVP is back with Gang Green after being traded from the Eagles earlier this week. Even though reports say that fourth-year pro Mike White is slated to start on Sunday, the Bengals’ ferocious defense that just gave Lamar Jackson fits could force New York’s coaching staff to turn to the veteran by or before halftime.
The Ravens laid an absolute egg after their “statement win” over the Chargers in Week 6, so perhaps the Bengals falling victim to the proverbial trap game might not be too farfetched of a prayer to believe in.
Root for: Colts
The Ravens already beat the Colts this season so they own the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the former Baltimore professional football franchise could do the current one a favor and split their regular-season series with the AFC South-leading Titans, it’d be appreciated.
The Ravens currently have the same record as Tennessee at 5-2 but the Titans are coming off back-to-back impressive wins over the Chiefs and Bills and are picking up steam as the current No. 2 seed. Divisional games can be tossups most of the time, but Indianapolis has been playing a lot better as of late since they lost in overtime to the Ravens. So, maybe they’ll be able to catch the most assuredly confident Titans slipping this week.
Root for: Steelers
This one is a tough pill to swallow as both are rivals of the Ravens. While a tie would be the best-case scenario, the odds of it actually happening are highly unlikely. As hard as it will be to accept and many Ravens fans won’t, the team to pull for in this AFC North matchup is the Steelers. Even though Pittsburgh and Baltimore are still archrivals, Cleveland is the formidable foe of the two and would pose the greatest threat to Ravens’ come playoff time with their complete roster on both sides of the ball. The Browns have bested the Steelers in their last two meetings including the postseason. However, Cleveland is banged up right now and is likely as vulnerable as they’re going to be before they start getting healthier down the stretch.
Root for: Dolphins
While this isn’t quite as long as shot as the Jets upsetting the Bengals, it is a very close second — but not totally inconvincible given the way the Dolphins have been playing since the return of second-year signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. Buffalo will be well-rested coming off their bye, whereas Miami lost their second straight close game to extend their losing streak to six in a row since winning their season opener. All signs are pointing to a Bills rout but this could be the week that the Dolphins finally breakthrough and shock the NFL world.
Even though a win for the Dolphins this week would likely give them the confidence to make them believe that they could prevail against the Ravens in two weeks, stubbing the Bills toe is more beneficial in the long run.
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
Root for: Patriots
Pulling for the Patriots, even post-Tom Brady, is almost as blasphemous as rooting for Steelers given the history between the two franchises over the past decade-plus. However, even though the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chargers, both teams will be competing for one of the top two wild card spots if neither can overtake the current frontrunner in their respective division races. The difference in being the fifth or sixth seed could mean playing a more favorable matchup against one of the lesser division winners on Wild Card Weekend.
Root for: Washington
The Broncos’ season seems to have spiraled out of control since the Ravens handed them their first loss of the year back in Week 4. Even though they have dropped four straight games, Denver has yet to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. So, if Baltimore’s beltway brother could do them a solid ensure that they inch that much closer, it’d be appreciated. Also, when the Ravens aren’t playing, most fans in the DMV area should be cheering for their other regional team anyway since they don’t play in the same conference.
Root for: Giants
Despite their slow and sloppy start to the season, and even though the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them, the Chiefs are still one of the most dangerous teams in the league. If they can figure out a way to stop turning the ball over at a prolific rate on offense and find a way to play some semblance of defense, they’re a team that no one, including the Ravens, will want to face come January. This is not as long of a shot as some might believe despite how bad Patrick Mahomes and company have looked as of late. The Giants could do the rest of the AFC a huge favor by pulling off an upset.