When it comes down to it, every game is a “must-win” at the NFL level. But some wins are key.
We've all heard sports announcers say, "This is a definite must win for this team." And we all know what they mean by that statement.
Some wins are against the biggest threat in the division. Some wins send a message to the rest of the league and some wins just build the team’s confidence. These are the kind of must-win games I’m talking about here.
Yes, we are in a "rebuilding" year so some people might think we don't have any real must-win situations upon us this season.
I beg to differ.
Let's not set our sights too low. This is, afterall, the NFL. We play the games for a reason, right?
Think of it this way: the odds of the Seahawks making the playoffs this year are a lot better than the odds of USC going to the Rose Bowl this year.
So without further ado, the five must-win games for the 2010 Seattle Seahawks are:
In the very first game of the season, Mike Singletary is bringing his team to Qwest Field for a big division match up. A lot of people are calling the Niners to finally return to the playoffs. The weak NFC West got even weaker in the offseason.
The Niners have most of the tools necessary to compete on a high level. But if the Hawks can exploit Alex Smith’s weaknesses (and he has a lot of them) then Seattle really has a shot at this one at home.
Qwest Field is never easy to play in, though the two teams did exchange road victories last year.
The Seahawks offense is left to the challenge of establishing a run game against a good defense that has only gotten better in San Francisco, but I think they are up to the challenge.
The primary goal on defense is to keep Frank Gore from doing what he did to us last season and make Alex Smith throw.
A first week win is always a great start to a season. It riles up the team and its fans. Not only would this game start us off with a winning record but it’s against the biggest perceived threat within the division so a win is huge here.
Plus the Seahawks need to send a message to the rest of the NFL: WE ARE BACK!
We must win this game.
This isn’t just a must-win game, this is a must-annihilate game.
Never mind this is a division matchup. It’s a road game against a weak team. I would take a 10-6 victory with a Coke and a smile, but what we really need is a serious routing. I’m talking 42-3 or some such embarrassing margin.
Let the league know this team can travel across the country, go into your house and win ballgames with gusto. With a big opportunity on the road, the Seahawks need to walk into St. Louis like they own it and absolutely destroy the Rams.
Our secondary can shut down the passing game and leave the linebackers to focus on Steven Jackson’s first step of every play. Jackson is the only standout in an offense that is otherwise inferior to that of The Bad News Bears... and they don't even play the same sport.
The Seattle offense can take this opportunity to pick apart a secondary that resembles tissue paper. I'm hoping Golden Tate and Mike Williams get their feet wet with some big tosses from Matt Hasselbeck.
It’s time to strike fear in the hearts of future opponents. The Seahawks have been infamous for their road struggles in the past few years. They can take the Rams game and stuff it in their back pocket because if they can’t beat the Rams on the road then who can they beat on the road?
We must win this game.
I promise the next game on the list is against a non-NFC West team.
If Seattle wraps up a victory against the Cardinals then a winning division record is almost certain. Even if the Hawks drop their road games against the Cards and Niners (which they won’t) they still have a home game against the Rams to cap off the regular season and push them over .500.
In this Arizona matchup we have to dominate the passing game which can only be centered on stopping the quarterback. Even without Anquan Boldin the Cardinals’ receiving corps is still pretty scary and tough to cover, so we’ll have to get to the quarterback. The quality of the running game is yet to be seen but if Matt Leinhart plays as bad as I remember then the Hawks will be able to keep a close eye on the run.
The offense will try to take advantage of a defense that has lost some critical players. It will be week 7 so some adjustments will make the Cards D better by then, but still not as good as last year.
I'm counting on our improved offense to get the job done against their unimproved defense. If the Cards do have success with Leinhart then we'll have to pass to keep up because, as we all know, those Arizona receivers are deadly. If we can lean on the run game then we can just run at aging Joey Porter all day.
A 4-2 (or better) division record sure would be nice. Actually it’s not just nice, it will be required if we are to win this division. The winner in the NFC West is going to be whoever can beat up on the rest of the weak teams within. The winner could realistically go 6-0 inside the NFC West and 3-7 outside of it. Thus…
We must win this game.
OK, it’s time to start gunning for the big boys.
The New York Football Giants have a tough defense and, with Eli Manning slinging to a slew of talented, young receivers they also have a newly potent passing game. Steve Smith is no longer the “other” Steve Smith and he is lining up with guys like Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, among others who have the potential to seriously burn your secondary.
The last two times the Seahawks played the Giants at Qwest Field it seemed like the blue-men were flagged for a false start on every play because of the crowd noise (especially in 2005 when they committed 11 early flinches). With that contributing factor (and some missed field goals) the Hawks won both games… barely. And that was back when they were a proven football squad. Last time these two met at the Meadowlands the Giants put a serious hurt on the Hawks to the tune of a 42-6 stomping. Point being: home field is a big deal here. The Seahawks need to show what they can do with that.
Let’s show just how hard it is to come into Seattle and crawl and claw your way to the finish line no matter how good you are.
If we’re going to the playoffs this season we can’t count on just beating the lesser teams even though we are ranked 30th in strength of schedule. We have to take out contenders along the way and the Giants at home are the perfect candidate.
We must win this game.
I was embarrassed when the Bucs beat the Hawks at Qwest Field last season. Let’s return the favor and give them a good ol’ pounding on the road in week 16.
Much like last year, nobody is expecting much out of Tampa Bay but that sure didn’t stop them from beating us last year.
As bitter as I am about that game, the real reason this game qualifies as a must-win has little to do with the team they are playing. The Seahawks not only need to be able to win on the road, but they have to do it late in the campaign. What better time than the last road game of the regular season, with playoff hopes possibly on the line, and against a beatable team?
With some tough road games on our schedule we need to take advantage of the beatable teams, especially when the importance of a win is intensely magnified.
Hopefully the rookies haven’t hit the wall by week 16 and the whole team can come out and do a solid job. If they do that then defeating a weak Tampa Bay team shouldn’t be too much of a stretch even if it is on the road. They SHOULD win this game, which is why:
We MUST win this game.
Week 3 vs. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers presents the first big challenge for our pass defense but if we come out of this game without the victory it won’t exactly be soul crushing as the Chargers are an early AFC favorite.
Week 6 at Chicago Bears
The must-win scenario applies to this game the same way it applies to the Rams game in week 4 but we are much more likely to pound the Rams so week 4 made the list. Hopefully the Rams slaughtering “strikes fear” in the Bears hearts and we rattleJake Cutler to get a win from them on the road in the first game after the bye.
Week 11 at New Orleans Saints
If I felt we would be in contention for home field then this game would have definitely made the list.
Week 15 vs. Atlanta Falcons
It’s a big team late in the season, and at home, so this is a crucial game but it didn’t crack my top 5.
Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. I welcome your thoughts and feedback.