If the Saints keep winning games, it could soon get to a point where who you cheer against is as important as who you cheer for each Sunday.

Look out side of the division. Sure, it’s possible the Carolina Panthers go on a skid, lose a bunch of games, and open up the doors for someone to take over in the NFC South. They might even get their first loss this week against the Green Bay Packers.

But Carolina is currently 7-0. Attention can be spent better elsewhere. Like, for instance, on the Falcons.

Atlanta has looked vulnerable after a hot start. It should clean up against the 49ers this week, but for New Orleans to have a shot at the playoffs, it needs to at least play one game better than the Falcons the rest of the way and find a way to beat them in Week 17.

To ensure there’s minimal late-season stress, every loss along the way for Atlanta will only help New Orleans’ cause — assuming it keeps winning games.

The Rams (4-3), Seahawks (4-4) and Vikings (5-2) all need to hit the skids, too. Minnesota’s remaining opponents are a combined 36-24, so that one might take care of itself. St. Louis, meanwhile, has games against Cincinnati and Arizona, and the Seahawks have to play the Rams and Minnesota.

In the best scenario, those teams beat up on each other and open a door up for the Saints.

But the particulars can be figured out later. Right now, if you’re a fan of New Orleans, you need to spend each week cheering against these teams as hard as you root for the Saints.

Nick Underhill

NICK’S PICKS: Underhill’s top five teams (this week)

1. Patriots (7-0)

As long as the Patriots don’t fall into a trap along the way, there’s a good chance they’ll march into their Nov. 29 game against the Broncos undefeated.

2. Broncos (7-0)

Peyton Manning looks like he might have figured something out last week and the defense held Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards last week. That’s scary.

3. BENGALS (8-0)

Cincinnati keeps rolling along, picking up wins, and each week Andy Dalton looks more and more like he’s pushing himself into the top class of quarterbacks.

4. Panthers (7-0)

Are the Panthers good enough to compete for the top seed in the NFC? They keep winning. But the real test will come when they play the Packers this week.

5. Packers (6-1)

Some of their flaws were exposed last week against the Broncos. Another performance like that and Green Bay could have some issues to deal with.

This Week’s Games

Dolphins (3-4) at Bills (3-4)

WHEN: Noon, Sunday

Line: Bills by 21/2

BRIEFLY: Dolphins are 2-5 in past seven against Bills, outscored 67-24 in losing three straight at Orchard Park since 30-23 win in 2011. ... In three games since Dan Campbell took over as interim coach, Dolphins have combined for 443 yards rushing. They totaled 277 in first four games before Joe Philbin was fired. Defense has allowed 229 yards rushing in past three after giving up 642 in first four. ... QB Tyrod Taylor set to return after missing past two games with sprained left knee.

NICK’S PICK: Bills 17, Dolphins 14

PACKERS (6-1) at PANTHERS (7-0)

WHEN: Noon, Sunday

Line: Packers by 3

BRIEFLY: QB Aaron Rodgers held to 77 yards passing last week by Broncos, lowest mark of career in non-injury game ... Rodgers has won last two games vs. Carolina, throwing five TDs and no INTs. ... RBs Eddie Lacy and James Starks both had TD runs vs. Carolina in last meeting. ... Panthers have won 11 straight regular-season games. ... Carolina looking for first 8-0 start in history. ... QB Cam Newton has 28 games with passing and rushing touchdown, second most in NFL history. ... RB Jonathan Stewart has rushed for 285 yards and three TDs in past three games. ... Panthers have run for 100 or more yards as a team in 18 straight games.

NICK’S PICK: Panthers 21, Packers 20

JAGUARS (2-5) at JETS (4-3)

WHEN: Noon, Sunday

Line: Jets by 8

BRIEFLY: Despite 2-5 mark, Jaguars half-game behind Indianapolis and Houston (both 3-5) for first in AFC South, first time they are less than one game out after eight weeks since 2004. ... QB Blake Bortles has 15 TDs and trying for fourth straight game with two or more TD passes. He’s first Jaguars QB to throw 15 or more TDs in first seven games of season. ... Jets coming off two straight losses. ... QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will start despite tearing ligament in left thumb last week. Fitzpatrick has eight TDs and two INTs in past five games vs. Jaguars. ... RB Chris Ivory ranks second in AFC with 518 yards rushing, but has been held to 58 on 32 carries in last two games.

NICK’S PICK: Jets 24, Jaguars 17

Rams (4-3) at Vikings (5-2)

WHEN: Noon, Sunday

Line: Vikings by 1

BRIEFLY: Rams last played in Minnesota in 2006, only loss by Vikings in last five in series, and have visited just twice in past 23 seasons. ... Rams coach Jeff Fisher is 1-6 in career against Vikings. ... In only prior start against Vikings, Rams QB Nick Foles had 428 yards, three TDs and 103.5 passer rating for Eagles in 48-30 loss at Minnesota on Dec. 15, 2013. ... Rams RB Todd Gurley is first rookie in NFL history with four straight games of 125-plus yards rushing. ... Vikings have won six straight home games. ... Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has 350 yards and three TDs in three career games against Rams.

NICK’S PICK: Vikings 24, Rams 23

REDSKINS (3-4) at Patriots (7-0)

WHEN: Noon, Sunday

Line: Patriots by 14

BRIEFLY: Redskins are 1-10 on road under coach Jay Gruden. ... Redskins coming off largest comeback victory in franchise history, rallying from 24 points down to beat Tampa Bay before bye week. ... Redskins haven’t won consecutive games since midway through last season. ... LB Ryan Kerrigan broke right hand against Bucs and needed surgery but is hoping to return against New England. ... Patriots are 7-0 for second time in club history; only other time was 2007, when they were 18-0 before Super Bowl loss to Giants. ... QB Tom Brady leads NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating at 143.5, with seven TDs, zero INTs, 76.7 completion percentage.

NICK’S PICK: Patriots 31, Redskins 23

RAIDERS (4-3) at STEELERS (4-4)

WHEN: Noon, Sunday

Line: Steelers by 5

BRIEFLY: Raiders have won four of last five meetings since 2006. ... Oakland is looking to be over .500 at season’s midway point for first time since 2001. . ... Raiders have not turned it over in consecutive weeks for first time since 2010. ... Steelers WR Antonio Brown needs 23 yards receiving to become fifth player in franchise history with 6,000 in career. ... Steelers lead NFL with 11 rushes for 20 yards or more. ... Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has career quarterback rating of 88.0 in November, lowest of any month. ... Roethlisberger is just 9-10 against AFC West, only division he has losing record against.

NICK’S PICK: Steelers 28, Raiders 21

GIANTS (4-4) at BUCS (3-4)

WHEN: 3:05 p.m., Sunday

Line: Giants by 2 1/2

BRIEFLY: Giants have won four of past five meetings, including only playoff clash in 2007 — last time Bucs earned postseason berth. Giants went on to win Super Bowl that season. ... Eli Manning threw career-best six touchdown passes last week. ... WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) had eight receptions for 130 yards and three TDs against Saints, his third 100-yard game of season — 10th in 20 career games. ... Bucs LB Kwon Alexander (LSU) was chosen NFC defensive player of week following standout performance vs. Falcons. Playing two days after younger brother was killed during fight, fourth-round draft choice became first rookie since DeMeco Ryans in 2006 to have interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery in same game.

NICK’S PICK: Giants 31, Bucs 28

Falcons (6-2) at 49ers (2-6)

WHEN: 3:05 p.m., Sunday

Line: Falcons by 7

BRIEFLY: 49ers ended four-game skid in series to beat Falcons twice in 2013, first in NFC championship game, then again that December. ... Falcons have lost two of three after starting year 5-0. ... QB Blaine Gabbert makes first start since Week 5 of 2013 with Jacksonville as Colin Kaepernick benched. ... 49ers have no touchdowns in past two games and three in five.

NICK’S PICK: Falcons 28, 49ers 17

Broncos (7-0) at Colts (3-5)

WHEN: 3:25 p.m., Sunday

Line: Broncos by 51/2

BRIEFLY: Peyton Manning returns to Indy with chance to break Brett Favre’s records for most regular-season wins (186) and yards passing (71,838). Manning needs 284 yards to become NFL’s career leader. ... Colts have lost three straight for first time since coach Chuck Pagano arrived in 2012.

NICK’S PICK: Broncos 31, Colts 17

Eagles (3-4) at Cowboys (2-5)

WHEN: 7:25 p.m., Sunday

Line: Eagles by 3

BRIEFLY: Eagles lead NFL in takeaways with 19, and Cowboys are last with four. ... RB DeMarco Murray visits Dallas for first time since winning NFL rushing title with Cowboys. ... RB Darren Sproles is only player in NFL history with at least 25 touchdowns receiving (27), at least 15 TDs rushing (18), and at least five TDs on punt returns (6).

NICK’S PICK: Eagles 24, Cowboys 20

Bears (2-5) at Chargers (2-6)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Monday

Line: Chargers by 4

BRIEFLY: Bears will be without star RB Matt Forte (Tulane) and veteran WR Eddie Royal with knee injuries. ... Chargers on first four-game losing streak in coach Mike McCoy’s three seasons.

NICK’S PICK: Bears 14, Chargers 13


Nick’s picks last week: 7-5

For the season: 67-40