October 14, 2011
Week 6 is usually about the time when teams start to enter "must-win" territory. Some are already out of it — try as we might, we just don't see the Miami Dolphins making a run at it this year — and some teams are teetering on the brink. We look at three teams with legit playoff ambitions that must win this weekend or else they can begin looking to book the golf course circuit for the offseason.
1. Philadelphia Eagles — Does it need to be said? The Eagles declared themselves "The Dream Team" in August (well, actually backup quarterback Vince Young(notes) said that), but the 1-4 NFC East team is anything but a lock right now to even make the playoffs. The failure of the offense to be consistent and the poor personnel choices in implementing the wide-nine defense has led the Eagles to be the most colossal of disappointments in recent memory. Against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Eagles have to win to keep pace in the division. "I think we can turn it around," quarterback Michael Vick(notes) said. "Every guy in this locker room better have that mindset that we can turn it around. We can keep taking it one game at a time and try to be the best at your position. If you keep doing that, then collectively you can build a good football team. That has to be the mindset." After the trip to FedEx Field, the Eagles have a bye week then three straight home games against teams without a winning record. A victory this Sunday could potentially jump-start a little run for the Eagles.
[Video: NFL's Week 6 locks to win]
2. New York Jets — After guaranteeing that this was the year the Jets would win the Super Bowl, head coach Rex Ryan's team is searching for answers after three straight losses. Its 2-3 record isn't bad, but with the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots both sitting at 4-1, it is imperative that the Jets take advantage of a very winnable home game against the Dolphins on Monday night. At 0-4, Miami might be desperate, and historically plays the Jets tough. "As the losses mount we keep saying, 'We got time.' Let's try to get it taken care of right now," Ryan said. "We're not looking down the road. We're looking at this week's opponent and that's it." There is a positive for the Jets, who had a three-game losing streak in the middle of last year but still finished 11-5 and made a second consecutive AFC championship game. And with five divisional games remaining, there is plenty of time for the Jets to step up to the form that saw them start 2-0.
3. Chicago Bears — Playing a home game against a divisional opponent, the Bears need to step up and beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. This isn't a bad Chicago team and in an NFC that is wide open, there is every reason to believe that it can make a run at the wild card. The Bears defense has struggled mightily this year, to the tune of 24.4 points per game allowed, but against a Vikings passing attack that is second worst in the league…well, the math is simple on this one. "It really falls on the players," cornerback Charles Tillman(notes) said. "[The coaches are] doing everything in their power and I think we as players can definitely 'man up' and make the plays." It doesn't hurt that the Vikings are 1-4 this season either.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the NFL for Yahoo!Sports and can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer
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