There are certainly times when the phrase “must-win” is overused. However, I will go ahead and use it anyway.
Is it too early to think about how each game might impact a trip to the playoffs? Not in the NFL.
The season is too short.
Each game means too much.
The Hawks are 3-2, and that is obviously a positive record. Still, it is not a dominant record. If Seattle loses to the New England Patriots and then cannot handle the powerful San Francisco 49ers on the road, they could suddenly be 3-4. At that point, the playoffs may seem unlikely without a major momentum shift.
Then we will really be breaking out the must-win terminology.
Right now, it is hard to estimate what it might take for the Seahawks to make the playoffs in 2012. 10 wins? 11?
One thing seems likely.
This division is not going to be won with a 7-9 record.
You can certainly be optimistic, but in order to avoid yearly disappointment you have to mix in some realism. The Niners are looking really good, and they may be hard to track down in 2012. Granted, anything can happen. I
f Seattle is able to rise to the challenge and sweep San Francisco, perhaps the division crown can be snatched.
If Seattle cannot catch San Francisco or the surprising Arizona Cardinals, they will need to rack up enough wins to grab a wild-card spot. This means staying ahead of quality teams such as the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.
At 3-2, the Hawks are not exactly in the driver’s seat.
Who will win this game?
A team cannot look ahead, but games against San Francisco, Minnesota, St. Louis, Arizona and Chicago will be major tests. There are not a lot of cupcakes on this schedule.
Obviously, every game is crucial in football due to the short season. However, there are certain points in the season where the record, and the looming opponent, dictate a certain level of urgency.
Against the Pats, Russell Wilson must find his poise. Marshawn Lynch must unleash Beast Mode. Bruce Irvin must get up close and personal with Tom Brady. The ruckus crowd must deafen the opposition.
The Seahawks need this game.