NFL: 4 Teams Whose Backs Are Up Against the Wall in Week 6
One advantage to being in a must-win situation is teams will not play not to lose.
In other words, since winning becomes more imperative there won't be any resort to conservative play-calling on offense or lack of aggressiveness on defense.
An offense such as the Denver Broncos will put the ball in Peyton Manning's hands and provide him with infinite opportunities to dice up a defense. On the flip side, the Broncos will blitz relentlessly with Von Miller and co. to give the secondary playmakers additional shots at creating turnovers.
Denver needs a win in Week 6 because the Broncos are 2-3 and can't afford to fall further behind the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West. Along with Denver, though, other teams this week have their backs against the wall.
And another loss as we near the midway point would be extremely detrimental to their postseason odds.
The expectations for the Detroit Lions rightfully increased for 2012 after going 10-6 in 2011.
Unfortunately for the Motor City, Detroit has gone just 1-3 through four games and this week is another tough game.
Playing at the Philadelphia Eagles, a Lions loss would drop them to 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the conference. Considering the Minnesota Vikings' surge, the NFC North has only become a stronger division since last year.
And still Detroit's only well-established threat to an opponent is the passing game.
The running game has been largely inconsistent and the defense and special teams have been unreliable. Although Detroit ranks No. 10 and No. 13 against the pass and rush, respectively, the Lions have allowed an average of 28.5 points per game thus far.
When facing more potentially explosive and/or balanced attacks such as Philadelphia, Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta the Lions will be lucky to win six games. Now Michael Vick is prone to turnovers, so unless Detroit gets Matthew Stafford some additional possessions in Week 6, 2012 will continue its frustration.
New York Jets
It's now or never for the New York Jets.
This team must find a rhythm and it starts in Week 6 versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Sitting at 2-3, the Jets are facing a similar situation as the Detroit Lions. The AFC East has a rising team in the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots remain the standard. Sure, the Jets are 2-0 in the division, but the AFC has a slight increase in playoff contenders and the Colts are one them.
Include Rex Ryan's defense allowing an average of 172 rush yards per game and an average of 4.9 yards per carry, and Gang Green isn't going to stop anyone until that's fixed. Plus, the Jets offense hasn't produced emphatically well with just 50 total points in the past four games.
The schedule doesn't get any easier either. New York still has to square off against the Pats twice, once more versus the Dolphins and Bills, and the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals of the NFC West. No one can take that division lightly since all four teams enter Week 6 with a winning record.
The Jets desperately need a win here, because losing puts them on a three-game losing streak with three of the next four games on the road.
The Denver Broncos can really take over the AFC West with a victory over the San Diego Chargers on Monday.
That said, the Broncos can also make their 2012 season much more difficult if they drop to 2-4 entering the bye week.
For one, a loss gives San Diego an edge as we move into the middle of the year. Although Denver's schedule eases up once Week 8 kicks off, the Bolts' schedule doesn't see a drastic increase in difficulty.
In turn, the Broncos will be fighting with teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans for the wild card. Beginning with Cincy in Week 9 and stretching through the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15, Denver has five road games in seven weeks.
Therefore, winning before the bye week will take pressure off when November rolls around. If not, the Broncos' postseason odds take a significant hit even with Peyton Manning under center.
Green Bay Packers
Yes, another NFC North team and it's the surprising 2-3 Green Bay Packers.
The Monday night loss to Seattle was unfortunate, but it's not like Aaron Rodgers and the offense were impressive either.
And after leading the Colts 21-3 at halftime, Green Bay squandered that difference and lost 30-27. This week the Pack faces a colossal challenge in the undefeated Houston Texans—on the road no less—and then plays at St. Louis thereafter.
So, this week and next week are gut-check games for Titletown. When you look at the improved NFC North thanks to Minnesota, the Packers have yet to line up against them and still must play at Chicago.
Include another tough NFC matchup against the Giants in New York and Green Bay's postseason odds are already slim. Losing in Week 6 will drop the confidence for Week 7, and the Rams are no slouch.
Green Bay is still alive, however, the defense has to improve against the run and the offense must become more reliable on the ground. The Packers have yet to consistently dominate the line of scrimmage, and it has cost them thus far.
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