The NFL has returned, and not only will we be rooting for the Chiefs, but we will be rooting against those teams that stand in between us and another Super Bowl championship. This is the weekly piece where I rank exactly which teams we should be rooting against the maximize the Chiefs’ odds of reaching the final game of the season.
But first the rules.
- The rankings and interests are based solely on which outcomes benefit the Chiefs the most. So while some may root for the Bills to beat the Raiders because we hate the Raiders, from the Chiefs perspective it’s best for the Raiders to win and make it easier for the Chiefs to get the top seed.
- NFC vs. NFC matchups won’t be ranked. The only way they impact the Chiefs is if we get down to the 4th tiebreaker for playoff seeding (meaning head-to-head, win-loss record in conference games, and win-loss record in common games are all tied) in which case they factor into strength of victory and strength of schedule. Not only is this unlikely to be relevant, but even if it is we already know to root for NFC East teams (since that’s who we play this year).
- The Chiefs game won’t be ranked because, duh, we root for the Chiefs to win and it will always be our most important game.
1: Washington over Chargers
The first order of business for any season is to win the division. While I have the Broncos ranked higher than Los Angeles, the Chargers have a much higher ceiling. So they need to be put down before they can cause trouble
2: Dolphins over Patriots
In a case of deja vu this is the exact same matchup I had ranked 2nd in the week 1 rooting rankings last season. The Patriots are the team that worries me the most. Sure, the Bills might be better, but last year made it abundantly clear that they’re not on our level.
But the Patriots? Mahomes has struggled (relatively speaking) against them, and they’re way better than they have been the last two seasons. They’re the team most likely to knock the Chiefs out of the playoffs, so it’s best if they don’t make the playoffs at all.
3: Giants over Broncos
This would rank lower but division gets extra priority this early. The Broncos look to have a monster defense, but are held back by subpar quarterbacks. That can be dangerous, but it can also be a recipe for a 5-12 record.
4: Steelers over Bills
Pittsburgh isn’t as bad as most people think, but the Bills are still the much bigger threat to the Chiefs getting the top seed. A loss here would put the Chiefs at a huge head start to the top seed.
5: Panthers over Jets
6: Cardinals over Titans
7: Seahawks over Colts
None of these teams are particularly scary, but it’s conceivable that they could exceed expectations and be a threat. So they get a place a bit higher in the rankings.
8: Raiders over Ravens
The Ravens aren’t any worse than the Colts, but with their opponents being the Raiders that drops them down a bit. If they were a bigger threat they’d be higher regardless, but after losing their top pass rushers they’re unlikely to replicate their 2019 record.
9: Vikings over Bengals
10: Texans over Jaguars
It’d be absolutely shocking if these teams were any sort of threat to the Chiefs. But for the Rooting Rankings I have a 3 game rule. AFC teams only get excluded from the rankings once they fall 3 or more games behind the Chiefs. That should happen pretty quick for these team.