Week four of the NFL and already the teams are starting to separate. The cream is rising to the top (entire NFC East) while some teams are already getting ready for next year (Rams, Lions and Chiefs). Teams at 2-1 need wins, as a 3-1 is much different than 2-2. Meanwhile, teams sitting on 1-2 need victories to avoid starting 1-3, which is much different than 2-2. Below are teams from each of the aforementioned categories that absolutely must win this week or the world will stop spinning!
New York Jets
Arizona (2-1) @ New York (1-2) 1pm
Okay, you lost to New England. That’s fine. They were rallying around Matt Cassel in the wake of Tom Brady’s season ending injury. You lost to San Diego. That’s understandable. The Chargers absolutely needed a win to avoid an 0-3 start. Now the Jets are 1-2 and facing the shaky Arizona Cardinals. No one is expecting the Jets to win the Super Bowl, but with the additions they made in the off season, including a certain Hall of Fame quarterback, it’s time they start living up to promises and start winning.
Cleveland (0-3) at Cincinnati (0-3) 1pm
The Browns have scored just two touchdowns and they rank at the bottom in nearly every offensive category. Is that all Derek Anderson’s fault? No, but he’s the quarterback so he gets the majority of the blame. Maybe he should, he’s down over 100 passing yards a game from last year and his quarterback rating (43.5) is almost half of what it was in 2007. A Cleveland playoff run is a long shot, but if D.A. wants to keep Brady Quinn holding a clipboard, he must lead the Browns to a win.
Philadelphia (2-1) at Chicago (1-2) 8:15pm
Dallas and Washington play one another Sunday meaning at least one NFC East team is going lose this week (Giants have a bye). Perfect opportunity for Eagles to gain some ground in professional football’s toughest division where they are, technically, in last place. Eagles may be on the road but they’re playing a Chicago team coming off a game where they allowed Brian Griese to throw 67 times and Devin Hester is questionable. Bottom line, to win the NFC East the Eagles must win all their out-of-division games including this very winnable game against the Bears.
Baltimore (2-0) at Pittsburgh (2-1), 8:30pm Monday
Baltimore rookie Joe Flacco is 2-0 but it means nothing if he can’t lead the Ravens to an early showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers under the bright lights of Heinz Field and the pageantry of Monday Night Football. With Ben Roethlisberger still reeling from Philadelphia’s pass rush (they sacked him 9 times) and untested rookie Rashard Mendenhall (who fumbled three times in the preseason) taking over for injured Willie Parker, Baltimore has to capitalize. If the Ravens, with their number one ranked defense, want to control the AFC central, and if Flacco wants to be a big time NFL quarterback, this 2-0 team must win Monday night in Pittsburgh.