Continue in 10
NFL Atlanta Falcons

5 Games That Will Define Atlanta Falcons’ Season In 2014

5 Games That Will Define Atlanta Falcons' Season In 2014

Matt Ryan
Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have a dynamic offense and enough talent on defense for Matt Ryan to carry the team to 10 or 11 wins and a postseason berth in 2014. However, in order to get there, they cannot afford to lose to certain teams.

Here's a look at five games that will define Atlanta's 2014 campaign.

5. Week 6 vs. Chicago Bears

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Getty Images

5. Week 6 vs. Chicago Bears

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Getty Images

The Falcons should be 3-2 minimum heading into Week 6 when they host the Bears. Atlanta needs to take care of business against non-divisional NFC opponents, and in particular Chicago, who they could easily be fighting with for a wild card berth late into the 2014 campaign. Considering the game is at home, it's a borderline must win.

4. Week 10 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Getty Images

4. Week 10 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Getty Images

The Falcons must go 4-2 against their NFC West rivals in 2014, and the easiest way to do that is to beat the Buccaneers twice, and split each series against Carolina and New Orleans. It's fair to assume the Falcons can take care of business in Atlanta during Week 3, but they must circle the game in Tampa Bay on their calendars as a can't lose game.

3. Week 14 @ Green Bay Packers

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

3. Week 14 @ Green Bay Packers

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

Similar to Chicago, the Falcons could be battling the Packers for one of the last NFC wild card spots, making their trip to Lambeau Field a make-or-break contest in Week 14. Atlanta's schedule won't let up following this game, so they cannot accept losing to an incredibly tough team in its building even though it would be easy to write off.

2. Week 16 @ New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons
Getty Images

2. Week 16 @ New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons
Getty Images

Very few teams are able to go in to New Orleans and beat the Saints, but if Atlanta loses to them in Week 1 as I anticipate, it's going to be incredibly difficult for them to break any ties should they finish the season with the same record. In all likelihood, the NFC West will not send three teams to the postseason, and it's likely nothing will be decided until the last weeks of the season. Atlanta needs this game to be their ninth or tenth win.

1. Week 17 vs. Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
Getty Images

1. Week 17 vs. Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
Getty Images

There is a prevailing thought in the game that the Panthers are going to take a huge step backwards in 2014, but be careful making that assumption too quickly. Yes, they have a brand new receiving corps, but it is similar in talent to what they had in 2013, and their defense is still a punishing unit. Even if Carolina is eliminated from contention prior to the game, Atlanta is going to need the win regardless.

Timothy Downs is a St. Louis Rams/NFL writer for RantSports.com. You can add him on Google or follow on Twitter @Tidow1212.

Get the best deals on Atlanta Falcons tickets for all games at the Georgia Dome on TiqIQ.com