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2021 NFL Season, Week 9 preview: Who Seahawks fans should root for during the bye

NFL: New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

While sitting idle on the bye, and with playoffs not entirely out of the question thanks to the NFC’s expanded playoff format, here’s who Seattle Seahawks fans should root for to improve the ‘Hawks’ playoff chances in Week 9.

For the current odds and other betting lines on these games, check out DraftKings Sportsbook.

Root for the New England Patriots at the Carolina Panthers

As much as I hate to root for New England, it’s become just slightly easier without Tom Brady on the team, so I’ll back Mac Jones against the 4-4 Panthers this week. While I don’t think they’re necessarily a threat to do better than .500 the rest of the year, they currently sit 7th in the NFC (the final Wild Card spot), so it would be nice to move within a half game of them for the time being.

Root for the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Minnesota Vikings

This is probably the most crucial game this week for Seahawks fans. Cooper Rush gave us an absolute gift last weekend, dropping Minnesota to 3-4, but with the tiebreaker on us, Minnesota would beat us to the playoffs with the same record as us. It’s pretty easy to root for Lamar Jackson, and it gets even easier this week, as a Ravens win would drop the Vikings to our level at 3-5. And yes, while we will have to play the Packers off of the bye, Minnesota still has two more games against Green Bay, giving us a solid shot of passing them.

Root for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Chicago Bears

People forget that the Bears were actually a playoff team in 2020, but with an inexperienced quarterback and a lot of tough games remaining on the schedule, I don’t really give them a shot at repeating. I would have no complaints seeing them drop to 3-6, though, even if it is against the team that beat Seattle in Super Bowl XL.

Root for the Atlanta Falcons against the New Orleans Saints

This might seem like a weird choice, given that a loss for the Falcons would put them at 3-5, and a Saints loss would only drop them to 5-3 (with the tiebreaker over Seattle), but the loss of Jameis Winston could mean a collapse for the Saints that could see them fall out of playoff contention altogether by the end of the season.

Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill don’t exactly inspire confidence at the position, and having the Saints clear out of the six spot would leave two potential places open for the Seahawks to get. I don’t mind a Falcons win because, like the Bears, I really just don’t see them as threatening to make the playoffs at all, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if they dropped to 3-5. Of these 5 games, this is probably the outcome I care about the least.

Prefer the Arizona Cardinals at the San Francisco 49ers

While I think we’ll have the tiebreaker over San Francisco when it’s all said and done, a loss to drop them to 3-5 would be sweet, especially considering a Cardinals win doesn’t do anything to our playoff hopes. I say prefer rather than root for the Cardinals, as I don’t endorse rooting for a division rival, although it is convenient that Arizona is the lesser of two evils in this scenario. One thing to keep an eye out for is the potential absence of both DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray, both of whom are question marks to play on Sunday. San Francisco is now actually a 2-point favorite with it looking like we might not see either of them play.