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NFL Schedule 2016: Week 3 rooting guide for Dolphins fans

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A weekly look at the NFL schedule and a breakdown of how those games need to finish to best help the Miami Dolphins.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Week 3 schedule for the 2016 NFL second starts today, which means we need to know for which teams to root to give the Miami Dolphins the best week possible. As with the last two weeks, we are not yet far enough into the season in order for real playoff standings or tiebreakers to come into play. That means, we are trying to project who might be the better AFC teams, who could win divisions and who would be in Wildcard contention, and how wins now may help Miami 15 weeks down the road.

The basic rule for our rooting guide at this point is to root for an NFC team over an AFC team, root for AFC East teams to lose, and for the Dolphins to win. After that, we start to try to guess at some of the right teams for whom to root.

Time to get it a try for Week 3. (AFC teams are shown with their current record.)

Houston Texans (2-0_ at New England Patriots (2-0)

Thursday, 8:25pm

The Texans could find themselves in the playoff race later in the season, though they look, right now, more like a division champion than a Wildcard contender. The Patriots are 2-0 and leading the Dolphins by effectively 2.5 games in the division standings after winning against the Dolphins last week. Miami clearly needs a few losses from the Patriots this year, if they are going to fight their way back into contention for the division. Root for: Texans.

Arizona Cardinals at Buffalo Bills (0-2)

Sunday, 1pm

It is an NFC versus an AFC team, with the added bonus of that AFC team being a divisional rival for the Dolphins. Root for: Cardinals.

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)

Sunday, 1pm

The AFC West is a hard division to predict where the “good” teams are, and where the “bad” teams are. The Raiders are expected to be one of those good teams, but they are currently in last place in the division. That last place position is only one game behind the division leaders, but at this point, it looks like Oakland may be more of a Wildcard contender than a division champion contender. The Titans are 1-1 on the year and are sitting in second place in the division, but are less likely to be Wildcard contenders by the end of the year as compared to the Raiders. Root for: Titans.

Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-2)

Sunday, 1pm ET

The Dolphins return home for the first time this year after two tough road games. Obviously, you have to root for Miami here. Root for: Dolphins.

Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

Sunday, 1pm ET

Like the AFC West, the AFC North is a hard division to predict right now. The Ravens are looking to prove last year was all about their injuries, and that they are back to being a Playoff contender this year. That said, they are probably a Wildcard team, as compared to a division winner, so them losing is probably best for the Dolphins. Root for: Jaguars.

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

Sunday, 1pm ET

We have had an AFC West team and an AFC North team to try to predict where they will be in the final standings at the end of the year. Now, we get a game featuring teams from both divisions. The Broncos are sitting atop the division despite all the quarterback concerns before the season. The Bengals are in contention in the AFC North, but at this point, we are considering them as a Wildcard team. That leads us to wanting the Broncos to run away with their division while the Bengals remain in reach of Miami. Root for: Broncos.

New York Jets (1-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)

Sunday, 4:25pm ET

Another fairly easy pick this week. The Chiefs losing could be helpful for Miami down the road, but the Dolphins have to get past New York in the division and that takes priority. Root for: Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

Sunday, 4:25pm ET

The Colts could find a way to climb back into the Playoff picture by the end of the season, but the Chargers are currently there. There probably is not a wrong way to root in this game, but taking the team with fewer wins is the way we will go this early in the season. Root for: Colts.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, 4:25pm ET

This all-Pennsylvania game features an AFC team at an NFC team. That usually means you root for the NFC team, but this one breaks the rules a little bit. Based on the earlier rooting guide selections, we are seeing the Steelers as the team most likely to win the AFC North, so getting them out ahead of the rest of the division, and away from falling into a Wildcard battle, is the right move here. Root for: Steelers.

Games not considered (NFC v. NFC)

Washington Redskins at New York Giants
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints