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Who to root for in Week 13 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

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Who to root for in Week 13 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

There is a crowded AFC playoff bubble right now and the Baltimore Ravens are the one team standing at the top. 

Baltimore (6-5) is fortunate enough to have their playoff destiny in their own hands. Win out and they are in the postseason, at the very least they are a Wild Card team. 

Nipping at their heels heading into Week 13 are five other teams. Leading the charge are the Indianapolis Colts, one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Baltimore will have to be on their marks to prevent the Colts from overtaking them. Right now the Ravens have only a slight edge in AFC record at 6-3 against the Colts' 5-4 AFC record.

Don't count out the division title either for the Ravens as the Pittsburgh Steelers have a horrid schedule on their plate. Win the division and higher seeds quickly come into play. But, before we get to talking about higher seed it's time to worry about this week. 

Ravens Week 13 Rooting Guide

Buffalo Bills (4-7) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

An easy decision here as Buffalo has the worse record and the Ravens already hold the tiebreaker over the Bills. The Dolphins are only a game behind the Ravens for the final spot in the AFC and are well within striking range. These two squads, the Bills and the Dolphins, will meet again in Week 17 and they each have the New England Patriots one more time on their schedule. Root for the Bills.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Aside from them having the best record of the teams on the outside looking in, Indianapolis should be the team the Ravens are the most scared of. No. 1 they have Andrew Luck. No. 2 they have an easier schedule than Baltimore. The combined record of the Colts' remaining opponents is 25-30. The Ravens' opponents are 29-25-1. Jacksonville is no longer a threat in the Wild Card race, root for the Jaguars.

Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) vs. Houston Texans (8-3)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Either way this one turns out would not be the end of the world for the Ravens. That is assuming the Ravens believe they still have a shot at the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Steelers have a rough stretch of games to end the season, which Baltimore would need to pass first. Then, the Texans are only two games up on Baltimore. Getting to the playoffs is the first priority though and the Ravens do not have any wiggle room. Cleveland is 1.5 games back and has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Baltimore. They should be a bigger concern so root for the Texans in this matchup.

Denver Broncos (5-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Baltimore wants neither of these two teams since both of them are a mere game out of the Ravens. Holding the Week 3 victory over the Broncos in the Ravens' pocket is the difference. Cincy and Baltimore both split the season series, so the next tiebreaker will be the divisional record. Root for the Broncos, despite them being one of the hottest teams in the AFC right now. 

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-9)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:05 p.m.

An Oakland loss or a Baltimore win will end the Raiders' faint postseason hopes. They are no threat to the Ravens so just root for the Raiders in case something crazy happens down the stretch.

New York Jets (3-8) vs. Tennessee Titans (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:05 p.m.

Building a wedge between the Ravens and the other teams on their tail is always a good thing. Baltimore has the tiebreaker over Tennessee already but they don't want it to come to that. Root for the Jets.

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) vs. New England Patriots (8-3) 
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:25 p.m.

There is no reason to not root against the Patriots. They are playing a NFC team so there is nothing for the Ravens to lose if they root for the Vikings this week.

Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:20 p.m.

If you are reading this we're assuming you're a Ravens fan so you don't need a reminder that the world is always better when the Steelers lose. That still should be the focus, but it would not be the end of the world if the Chargers fell in this matchup. Root for the Chargers.

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Eagles' acquisition of Golden Tate makes their pursuit of the Redskins more interesting

Eagles' acquisition of Golden Tate makes their pursuit of the Redskins more interesting

The Eagles became the second NFC East team in the last eight days to acquire a talented wide receiver, making a late splash on Tuesday's NFL trade deadline day.

A little more than a week after the Cowboys sent a first-rounder to the Raiders for Amari Cooper, the Eagles gave the Lions a third-round selection in exchange for Golden Tate. The deal came down a few hours before the 4 p.m. ET deadline.

The 30-year-old wideout is in the middle of yet another productive campaign. In seven games for the Lions, he caught 44 balls, averaged 11.8 yards per catch and scored three times.

Furthermore, Tate hasn't finished a season with fewer than 90 catches since 2013. He's a very tough cover in the slot and has long been one of the NFL's premier run-after-catch players.

Heading into Week 9, the Eagles sit a game and a half behind the division-leading Redskins. Assuming Tate can acquit himself well with Carson Wentz and his new squad's offense, he makes the Eagles offense more dynamic almost immediately.

Philadelphia and Washington haven't played yet, either, meaning Jay Gruden's team will have to face the strengthened defending champs twice. Both of those matchups come in December, with the first happening in Week 13 and the second in the finale.

For burgundy and gold supporters wondering why their favorite franchise didn't go after Tate, look to Jay Gruden's comments on the Redskins Talk podcast. The head coach told JP Finlay that the impending return of Jamison Crowder and Trey Quinn makes the idea of picking up another threat less realistic. 

"With the roster the way it is and some of the injuries that are kind of lingering it’s just going to be hard to add another body," Gruden said.

"I like the team we have," he added. "I really don’t think we need any changes right now."

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The NFL actually fired one of its referees

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The NFL actually fired one of its referees

The NFL fired down judge Hugo Cruz on Thursday for inadequate performance, a person familiar with the firing tells The Associated Press.

Cruz is in his fourth season as an NFL official. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not publicly announced the move.

As part of referee Carl Cheffers' crew, Cruz was involved in a missed call in the Chargers-Browns game that led to a Los Angeles touchdown on Oct. 14. Chargers tackle Russell Okung false-started on the play and nothing was called.

The NFL Referees Association said it would challenge the firing.

"The NFL has a troubling history of knee-jerk reactions with an eye on public relations, and clearly it has not learned from past mistakes," NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green, a former referee, said in a statement. "The NFLRA will protect the collectively bargained rights of all officials and will challenge this reckless decision through the grievance process."

Cruz's firing was first reported by FootballZebras.com, a website dedicated to officiating which said it's the first in-season firing by the league of an official because of performance in the Super Bowl era.

There has been a wave of criticism of officiating this season by team executives, coaches, players and the media.

Cruz also was a part of the crew that officiated the Redskins' 43-19 loss to the Saints in Week 6.

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