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TWENTYMAN: 5 games to watch this week

The bye week will give Detroit Lions players and coaches an opportunity to rest, get healthy, do some self-evaluation and watch some of the other teams in action around the league Week 9.

Lions fans also get an opportunity to scout some of Detroit's upcoming opponents.

Here are five games worth tuning into this weekend:

1. Minnesota (4-4) at Atlanta (4-4), 1 p.m.

Detroit currently holds a two-game advantage over the Vikings in the NFC North. Minnesota will be playing their first game of the season without veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins after he tore his Achilles last week in a win over Green Bay. The Vikings traded for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline, but plan to start rookie Jaren Hall vs. the Falcons Sunday.

The Falcons are making a change at quarterback as well in this one as they plan to start Taylor Heinicke over Desmond Ridder. Can the Vikings rally behind a rookie signal caller and pull to within a game and a half of Detroit in the North? Can Atlanta win at home with their new starter and stay in the playoff picture in the NFC?

The Lions defeated Atlanta Week 3 but have two games remaining against the Vikings Week 16 and Week 18.

View some of the best photos from the first half of the Detroit Lions 2023 season.

2. SEATTLE (5-2) at BALTIMORE (6-2), 1 p.m.

A Week 9 interconference showdown pitting the two teams that handed Detroit their losses this season against one another. This game has early playoff implications in the NFC with Seattle leading the NFC West by a half game over the 49ers, and the Seahawks also owning the tie breaker over Detroit because of their Week 2 win.

Baltimore's defense leads the NFL in points allowed this season and Seattle is No. 9 in that category. Could we see a defensive battle in Baltimore this week?

3. DALLAS (5-2) at PHILADELPHIA (7-1), 4:45 p.m.

The first of two matchups between the Cowboys and Eagles this season will help define the pecking order in the NFC at the midway point of the season. A Philadelphia win cements their status as the No. 1 seed and the team to beat in the NFC at 8-1. A Dallas win puts Detroit just a half game out of the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and sends a message to the rest of the league that Dallas is very much a player in the conference.

Dallas has the league's third ranked total defense. Philadelphia has the No. 3 total offense. Which unit proves superior in this one?

4. MIAMI (6-2) at KANSAS CITY (6-2), 9:30 a.m. (playing in Germany)

This doesn't have any playoff implications for the Lions but if you're a fan of offensive football this will be a fun one to wake up to and kick off a Sunday of football. Miami is the most explosive offense in the NFL and will be trying to outpace the reigning MVP in Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

I expect a lot of points and a lot of big plays in this one so German football fans are in for a treat. This one could end up having serious playoff implications in the AFC with the winner owning a very important tie breaker.

5. LA RAMS (3-5) at GREEN BAY (2-5), 1 p.m.

This is a critical game for both teams. If the Rams want to keep pace with Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West, they can't afford to drop a winnable game on the road.

Green Bay's playoff chances are in serious trouble if they drop to 2-6 to start. Another loss at Lambeau Field will get Packers fans very antsy about the direction of their football team and the long-term viability of Jordan Love at quarterback. This is about as must-win a game for both teams as a Week 9 game can be.

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