The New Orleans Saints don’t play this week, and if you’re like many fans, you don’t really have a true “second favorite” team. Unless you play fantasy football or have some other vested interest in specific teams, games, or players, when your favorite team has their Bye week, you can be left without a game to actively care about.
Well I’m here to help! Even though it’s only Week 5, there are still plenty of reasons to care about the outcomes of many of the games across the NFL this week, as it relates to the playoff hopes of your New Orleans Saints. So let’s get started:
Thursday Night Football
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers - OK, maybe this wasn’t the best game to start with. Both of these teams enter this matchup with identical records, with another game left head-to-head, and the Saints have to play both of the these teams later in the season. If I had to pick a reason to care about one, Arizona Cardinals already beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Therefore, a Cardinals loss hurts the Bucs’ strength of schedule. Who to cheer for: San Francisco 49ers.
Sunday Early Games
Houston Texans @ Minnesota Vikings - You’ll see this as a recurring theme, but we want most AFC teams to beat most NFC teams in order to help with potential Wild Card chances. Who to cheer for: Houston Texans.
Chicago Bears @ Indianapolis Colts - Again, in the matchup between conferences, when in doubt, pull for the AFC. Who to cheer for: Indianapolis Colts.
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Here’s the first matchup of AFC-only teams, and the Saints aren’t scheduled to play either in the regular season. This is another game that really doesn’t matter as neither of these teams will face any of the NFC South teams this year. Who to cheer for: It doesn’t really matter.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins - See above. Who to cheer for: It doesn’t really matter.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions - Here’s an NFC-only matchup where a loss to the undefeated Eagles helps less than a loss to the Detroit Lions. The Lions have an identical record to the New Orleans Saints, so a best-case scenario would involve the Eagles running away the NFC East and Lions further out of Wild Card contention. Who to cheer for: Philadelphia Eagles.
New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns - Be like me: cheer for anarchy. Who to cheer for: Cleveland Browns (but really, it doesn’t matter).
Washington Redskins @ Baltimore Ravens - NFC vs AFC. Cheer for the AFC. Who to cheer for: Baltimore Ravens.
Sunday Afternoon Games
Atlanta Falcons @ Denver Broncos - No analysis needed. Who to cheer for: Denver Broncos.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys - Again, cheer for the AFC. Who to cheer for: Cincinnati Bengals.
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders - The Saints have played both of these AFC West teams, losing to the Raiders and beating the Chargers. The Raiders have also played (and lost) to the Falcons. Our best-case scenario is for a Raiders win (to help our strength of schedule) and a Chargers loss (and then the Chargers to later beat the remaining NFC South opponents). Who to cheer for: Oakland Raiders.
Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Rams - This one is tricky. A Rams loss helps the Saints for potential Wild Card issues, but a Rams win helps the Saints with strength of schedule if the Saints are able to beat the Rams later in the season. For now, I’m going to worry more about NFC Wild Card issues. Who to cheer for: Buffalo Bills.
Sunday Night Football
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers - The Giants have already beaten the Saints, and the Saints aren’t scheduled to play Green Bay this year. A Giants win helps strength of schedule the most, and a 3-2 Giants team is better for the Saints Wild Card hopes than a 3-1 Packers team. Who to cheer for: New York Giants.
Monday Night Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers - By far one of the most interesting games of the week (along with the ATL/DEN matchup), and I could honestly understand arguments for both sides of who Saints fans should want to win. I’m going to go with the Panthers. The Bucs already beat the Falcons in Week 1, and the Saints will play the Panthers next week, allowing the Saints to be more in control of their NFC South destiny. Who to cheer for: Carolina Panthers.
So what do you think? Do you have a different reason to cheer for any of the other games I didn’t care about? Tell me in the comments. Send me presents.