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NFL Week 3: 5 teams that must win

The NFL season feels like a marathon at the beginning, only for everyone to quickly realize it has always been a sprint. The campaign is only 16 games, which basically equivocates to a baseball season starting in mid-September with everybody even up.

In other words, it’s getting late early, as Yogi Berra famously said.

So which teams need to win in NFL Week 3? Well, plenty of them, but here are five that have hopes of making noise come January.

5. Detroit Lions

The Lions fall fifth on the list because, frankly, I’m not sure they have any chance of making any headway into the postseason. Still, there is enough talent on the roster to believe, but not with an 0-3 start in the tough NFC North. If Detroit is going to finally get moving after losses to the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers, it’ll have to do so with the New England Patriots coming to town on Sunday night. It won’t be an easy chore for Matt Patricia’s team, which has looked wholly incapable of playing a solid 60 minutes.

4. Carolina Panthers

Carolina is coming off a tough loss to the Falcons on the road, but its fine at 1-1. So why is this a must-win? The NFC South is the best division in the sport, with a winning record in play for the last-place squad. Cam Newton needs to play well this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals, who come into Bank of America Stadium with an unblemished mark. Newton doesn’t have his full compliment of weapons with tight end Greg Olsen out, putting even more pressure on him and the defense.

3. Atlanta Falcons

The argument above for the Panthers can be made for the Falcons. At 1-1, Atlanta has no reason to feel panicked, but at the same time, losing at home to the New Orleans Saints would be problematic. The Falcons have a chance to grab a second divisional win in two weeks while staying on the right side of the ledger at home. Losing these types of games can be the difference between a division winner and a wild card team, or a wild card team and missing the postseason altogether.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

There’s no tomorrow for the Steelers if they lose this game. Normally not something a rational person would write after three games, but Pittsburgh is spiraling quickly and needs something to cling onto. The Steelers are 0-1-1 and have more drama than a daytime soap. If they lose to the Buccaneers on Monday night, this thing could come completely off the rails.

1. Houston Texans

At 0-2, it’s put up or shutup for the Texans. The New York Giants are coming to NRG Stadium for Houston’s home opener, giving the Texans a golden opportunity to get right. New York is also 0-2 and can’t block or play any real defense, giving Deshaun Watson and the rest of his troops the right team to pounce on.

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