It's only Week 5, but the Atlanta Falcons are one of the teams that will win very important games this weekend.
These games aren't necessarily the biggest showdowns of the weekend, so don't look for the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints on this list. Those teams will square off in a battle of contenders. The teams on this list have put themselves in an early hole and need a big win this week.
With several surprise contenders through the first five weeks, it's important for the teams on this list to win in order to keep up. These teams all have something in common. These teams all play at home, which gives them an advantage over their opponents.
Below is a full schedule for Week 5, and keep reading to see which teams will come away with important victories this week.
Green Bay Packers (vs. Detroit Lions)
At 1-2, the Green Bay Packers need a win this week. They are coming off a tough loss in Cincinnati. In that game, they scored 30 straight points to overcome a 14-point deficit before blowing a 16-point lead. Green Bay had a bye week to regroup and will now focus on its next opponent, the Detroit Lions.
The Packers haven't lost games in back-to-back weeks since the 2010 season.
Playing at Lambeau Field is certainly an advantage for the Packers. Despite playing against each other twice a year, the Lions haven't won at Lambeau Field since 1991. That's a long time. There's something about the place that makes it tough on Detroit, so don't expect the Lions to come away with a win.
Look, Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has led his team to the postseason in four consecutive seasons, so he knows what it takes to get there. If the Packers were to lose this game, they would sit at 1-3 and trail the 4-1 Lions, who would have the tiebreaker. That would not be a great spot for the team to be in.
Green Bay needs this game more. Rodgers will be ready to play after the bye and will continue to dominate the Lions at home.
San Francisco 49ers (vs. Houston Texans)
It's still early, but the San Francisco 49ers may have to turn their attention to grabbing a wild-card spot. The Seattle Seahawks are 4-0, including a win against the 49ers, and don't lose at home. San Francisco sits at 2-2, so there are some issues to work through.
Although both teams made the playoffs last season, they have been underwhelming through five games. Houston is also 2-2, but it could easily be 0-4 if it hadn't made two great comebacks.
After losing two games to contenders early in the season, the 49ers won last Thursday, which gave them a few extra days to prepare for this game.
Both teams need a boost in confidence. Going head-to-head will be a good test, but the 49ers will come out on top. Colin Kaepernick is the more dynamic quarterback, and Frank Gore is playing at a high level.
Now that they have put themselves in a hole, the 49ers will show why they are considered Super Bowl contenders.
Atlanta Falcons (vs. New York Jets)
No team needs a win more than the Atlanta Falcons. A year after making it to the NFC title game, they have started the season 1-3.
Since being drafted in 2008, Matt Ryan has never lost back-to-back games at home. The New England Patriots beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome last week. Now the New York Jets come to town, and it gives the Falcons the perfect opportunity to get back on track.
Atlanta's season is far from over. It will be favored in nearly every game through Week 11. Outside of Week 10's game in Seattle, the Falcons should win every game in that span. They will get a bye week after their game with the Jets.
If the Falcons can win this week, they will put themselves in great position to make the playoffs. They should be at 6-4 at worst heading into a Week 12 showdown with the New Orleans Saints. It's not a great mark given expectations, but it would be a big improvement from where they are now.
Rookie Geno Smith has turned the ball over 11 times in four games, and Ryan is good enough to take advantage of those mistakes. After last week's loss, the Falcons will be ready to get back to winning.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com
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