NFL: 6 Teams That Must Win To Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
It's the unofficial halfway point of the NFL season. Some teams have played eight games and others have played seven. So, as we hit Week 9, it's about time to start thinking playoff race.
The AFC has some potent teams but over in the NFC, it's all up in the air. For some teams, a loss this week could end all hope of making it to the playoffs.
Which six teams must win this week to keep their playoff hopes alive? Find out here.
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The Eagles are kind of in a weird position. They had the quarterback controversy earlier in the season between Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, and now, Vick is expected to return from injury and make the start this week against the Colts.
The Eagles are 4-3 in the NFC East, one game behind the Giants, who many say are the team to beat. It's not a do-or-die situation quite yet obviously, but the Eagles could take a step back with a loss.
They are favored to beat the Colts at home, facing an injured Indianapolis team, but the Colts are still a first-place team led by Peyton Manning.
The Giants have a soft game at Seattle, as the Seahawks won't even have their starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck playing.
But, even if the Giants gain a game on the Eagles, the Wild Card spots will be up for grabs, although that's looking good for the NFC South. The Eagles really need to win this game.
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All right, maybe it's a bit of a stretch. The Vikings' season is probably over already with a ton of controversy and bad play going on. The saga of the Vikings' season has been well documented.
From Brett Favre returning from retirement—again—to trading for Randy Moss to placing him on waivers to the story of head coach Brad Childress, the Vikings are 2-5 and this week is a must-win game.
Every game from here on out is a must-win and the Vikings will be at home against a bad Cardinals team.
If Minnesota were to lose this game, that would probably end Childress' tenure as head coach. It's rare for a head coach to get the axe in-season, but 2-6 for a team with the Vikings' talent is beyond unacceptable.
After this week, the schedule isn't going to get a whole lot easier as it never is for the Vikings year after year.
You'd figure eight wins could perhaps get an NFC team a Wild Card spot, so 6-3 is the mark for the Vikings to shoot for. Probably won't happen and it certainly won't if they lose this week.
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The Dolphins are this season's unlucky team. They're not terrible at 4-3, but they're in the AFC East. It's a division which could potentially send the Jets and Patriots to the AFC Championship Game.
Now, that's not the Dolphins fault, but at the same time, they need to win this week and it won't be easy. Miami heads to Baltimore to face the first-place Ravens and this could be a damaging week for Miami.
Reasons being, the Jets and Patriots each have soft games against the Lions and Browns respectively. Also, the Dolphins already have losses to both the Jets and Patriots at home.
They still have to travel to New York and New England and that will ultimately decided their fate.
Assuming one of the two teams they trail will win a Wild Card spot, it'll be tough for Miami to compete with teams from the AFC North and South.
They need to get to 5-3 this week, and even that and a Jets loss would have them in third place.
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The Raiders have surprised many people by getting off to a .500 start. They've won two in a row and now it's time for them to step up against the AFC West-leading Chiefs.
The Raiders have been on fire in their two straight wins, outscoring teams 92-17. They're 1.5 games behind the Chiefs for first place and they have a 2-0 division record, having beaten the Chargers and Broncos.
The Chargers, though, always make their annual second half run and the Raiders have to feel they're competing with two teams right now.
They'll finish the season in Kansas City, but if they win this week against them at home, they'd gain more respect and close the gap.
A loss would be extremely damaging, as they'd fall 2.5 games behind and technically three since it'd be a loss to the Chiefs.
The Raiders' defense has to step against the Chiefs' top-ranked rushing attack in order to be successful as an average of 46 points in their last two games is a fluke.
San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans
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This is the only game this week that features two teams each needing wins to stay in the race. The Texans are in a tough fight in the AFC South, trailing both the Colts and Titans, but only a game out of first place—they're 4-3.
After beating the Colts in Week 1, the Texans lost to them on the road on Monday night, but right now own the better division record. If the Colts and Titans were to lose and the Texans win, Houston would be in first place.
But, they also need to win this game in order to not decrease their playoff chances. This game will be in Houston and if the Texans were to lose, it could potentially drop them below the Jaguars into last place.
As for the Chargers, they're in a tougher position. They've been one of the more disappointing teams in the league so far at 3-5, although the AFC West is not necessarily strong.
The Chargers are still better than both the Chiefs and Raiders. With that being said, they do have losses to both of those teams and that makes the task even tougher.
The Wild Card is definitely not coming out of the AFC West, so winning the division is imperative. Dropping to 3-6 will certainly not help and winning in Houston is certainly not easy.