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Week 13 rooting guide for Washington Commanders fans

Who needs to lose this week so that the Commanders can ultimately reach the postseason?

Washington Commanders v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Commanders are in the thick of the wildcard race in the NFC. If the team simply wins all five of its remaining games, it will end up in the playoffs at no worse than the 6th seed. We can’t, of course, count on going undefeated, so it’s good to know each week which teams to root for to maximize Washington’s chances of making the playoffs with the optimal seeding.

Even the team’s most ardent fans — readers of Hogs Haven — expect the team to finish 3-2 in the final five games.

This week’s rooting guide

If you want to know who to root for in this weekend’s games, here’s a handy rooting guide aimed at maximizing Washington’s chances of earning a wildcard seeding:


Seahawks at Rams

This 4 o’clock game is the most critical of the weekend outside of the Commanders game against the Giants. The Seahawks were initially favored by 4.5 points according to DraftKings, but that spread has now increased to 7 points. We need Sean McVay to do his former team a solid and beat the living daylights out of the Seahawks.

Los Angeles Rams v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Wear your lucky socks when you watch this NFC West rivalry game and cheer on the team from LA.

Dolphins at 49ers

The Niners don’t actually have the NFC West locked up, and Washington still plays them in SF in Week 16, so this could end up being a hugely important game by the end of the season. While I’m expecting the Niners to win the division, there are a number of plausible scenarios where they don’t.

The Dolphins, who are currently on a 5-game winning streak, are surprising 4-point underdogs in this game. A win by Seattle and a loss by the Niners would see them both at 7-5. I’m happy to see a road upset by Miami to put the heat on the 49ers, though I won’t be unhappy if SF further cements its hold on the Western division lead, leaving the Seahawks as the only genuine wildcard competition from the NFC West.

Colts at Cowboys

I’d say it’s unlikely that Indianapolis can come off of a Monday night game and then travel into Dallas and beat the 8-3 Cowboys, but then it was pretty unlikely when Washington was 1-4 that we’d be talking seriously about the playoffs right now. DraftKings has the Colts as 10.5-point underdogs (up from 9 points earlier), but let’s all hope they are Cowboy-killers on Sunday Night Football just because it’s fun to watch the Cowboys lose.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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Jaguars at Lions

Two 4-7 teams, one from the AFC and the other an NFC team with a tie-breaking advantage over the Commanders. Easy call here — root for the Jags to put a nail in the Detroit coffin.

Packers at Bears

The Packers have 4 wins; the Bears have 3 wins. DraftKings has the Bears as 3.5 point underdogs (up from 2.5 points earlier in the week). Both teams lost to the Commanders earlier in the season. The Packers have the better overall record and the better conference record. While I doubt this game will have any effect on Washington’s playoff aspirations this season, there is probably slightly more reason to back the Bears to win than to back the Packers.

Jets at Vikings

DraftKings has the Vikings as 3-point favorites in this game. The Vikings are 2.5 games ahead of the Commanders and hold the key tiebreakers. This game will have no bearing on Washington’s playoff chances, but the default is to root for the AFC team. J-E-T-S Jets.

NFL: NOV 20 Jets at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Steelers at Falcons

Because the Commanders hold key tiebreakers over Atlanta, this is not a hugely critical game. The Falcons’ most likely path to the playoffs is now to beat out the Buccaneers for the division title in the NFC South, but, as always, the default position is to root for the AFC team, so... go steelers.

Titans at Eagles

Philadelphia opened as a 6.5 point favorite per DraftKings, but that spread has narrowed and the Titans are now 4.5 point underdogs. The Eagles will not pose a threat to Washington’s hopes of qualifying for a wildcard spot at the end of the season, but let’s all be Titans fans for an afternoon anyway. Titan up!!

Oakland Raiders v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images


Saints at Buccaneers

I don’t have a lot of reasons to prefer one team over the other, but here’s my thinking. Washington has a head-to-head tie-breaker advantage over the Falcons, but can’t get the same advantage against the Bucs because they don’t play each other this season. It seems like the Commanders’ path to the the postseason is slightly smoother if Tampa Bay wins the NFC South title, so I’d suggest backing Tampa Bay, who are favored by 3.5 points anyway.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.