Just Win, Baby! 5 NFL Teams That Absolutely Must Win On Sunday
Don’t look now, but the first quarter of the 2011-12 NFL season is already over. It seems like just yesterday we were sitting down on our couches, getting ready for the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints to kick off the season, and now we’re already starting to talk about which teams might make the NFL playoffs—and which might be headed for what’s being called “The Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.” Time sure does fly.
With that in mind, there are a few teams that would like to forget the first quarter of their season. These are teams that were expected to be good who have underperformed in the first four games. And, as a result, we think that they absolutely must win on Sunday if they have a real shot to head to the playoffs later this year and make some noise. We’re not referring to the Miami Dolphins, the Indianapolis Colts, or the Kansas City Chiefs here. Truth be told, those teams would actually be better off tanking this year to help improve their chances of landing Luck in the 2012 NFL Draft. Instead, we’re talking about teams talented enough to contend for a title who simply haven’t come through yet this season.
These are the five NFL teams who need to win on Sunday—lest their Super Bowl hopes dissolve before the season is half over. It’s time to buckle down and get a W, fellas. Before it’s too late…
Their Record: 1-3
Their Opponent: Buffalo Bills
Why They Must Win: The Eagles were supposed to be the NFL’s “Dream Team” this year. Okay, okay, even if that was just a term that Vince Young threw out and that the media picked up and ran with, the Eagles were supposed to be a lot better than they’ve been through the first quarter of the season, weren’t they? They need to step up and prove that they deserve to be mentioned with the other elite NFC teams. Otherwise, their season is going to be a total failure. This team was built to make a run to the big game, and if they want to have any chance of seeing that through, they need a win Sunday.
Their Record: 2-2
Their Opponent: Houston Texans
Why They Must Win: The Raiders have been thisclose to breaking through and becoming a playoff team in recent years. But they consistently lose to good teams and always seem to end up right around .500. This game against the Texans gives them the perfect opportunity to do that. The Texans are without Andre Johnson, which definitely helps, and the Raiders are coming off a tough loss to the New England Patriots that they should be eager to bounce back from. It’s time to get a signature road win, guys, if you want the rest of the league to take you seriously this year.
Their Record: 2-2
Their Opponent: Tennessee Titans
Why They Must Win: Doesn’t it just feel like the Steelers’ entire season could unravel if they’re not careful? Ben Roethlisberger is playing with an ankle injury, the defense looks bruised and battered, and they haven’t gotten off to the quick start they were hoping for. Still, a win over the upstart Titans could help turn their luck around immediately. If they lose, though, it might be time to start making some drastic changes on both sides of the ball.
Their Record: 2-2
Their Opponent: Green Bay Packers
Why They Must Win: The Falcons were picked by many people—including Sports Illustrated—to win the Super Bowl. Yet, their offense looks remarkably stagnant, their defense hasn’t looked much better, and their Week 2 win against the Eagles is looking less and less impressive with each passing week. They need to come out on Sunday Night Football and make a huge statement by beating the Pack. It’s also important to remember that Green Bay wiped the floor with Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs last year. So this is a revenge game that they have to win if they want to compete with the NFC’s best team later on in the year.
Their Record: 0-4
Their Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
Why They Must Win: We said we weren’t going to include the NFL’s 0-4 teams on this list, but ‘cmon: The Vikings aren’t that bad, are they? Or, maybe they are. Either way, they need to prove something to us this Sunday. If Donovan McNabb can’t get the job done yet again, it might be time for the Vikings coaching staff to look elsewhere for help. And, if he can? Well, maybe the Vikings can salvage what’s left of their season. To do that, they need to join the other four teams on this list and win. It’s the only cure for the disappointing starts to all of their seasons.