By Joel Deering
Thursday night football featured the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, both teams who are trying to turn things around. While that is the case, that game wasn’t necessarily a must win game for the Jets. It was for the Browns though. After going 0-16 last season, tying in Week 1 and losing in Week 2, the Cleveland Browns were still desperate for a win. Fans were hungry for a win before Thursday’s game, but the game against the Jets was the best opportunity the Browns had for a win so far this season. They made the most of it by beating the Jets 21-17.
Cleveland was facing a must win situation because they were searching for their first win in 635 days, but that’s not the only reason why a team could be facing a must win situation. There are eight teams who don’t have a win this season (Steelers, Seahawks, Giants, Raiders, Cardinals, Texans, Bills, and Lions), but not all eight of them are facing must win situations in Week 3. For example, the Bills are 0-2 right now, but they’re not facing a must win situation because we know they’re going to bad, so a win won’t mean much in the long run.
Then you have teams who are 1-1 or 1-0-1. Several of these teams are facing must win situations. Reasons could be because they just need to get to 2-1, or maybe it’s because they’re playing a division opponent and need a crucial win which will come in handy later in the season. When you get to the 2-0 teams, they’re not facing as much pressure because they’ve started off well, but they could still be facing a must win situation, depending on who they’re playing. So let’s break it down by record and see which teams must get a Week 3 victory.
0-2 or 0-1-1 Teams
Jon Gruden was brought to Oakland to bring this team back to their 2016 version, but so far it hasn’t gone well. If you don’t already think their season is a bust, them falling to 0-3 would probably do it. There’s been a lot of talk about Gruden not being able to coach in today’s NFL. He needs to get a win to give us some reason to believe he can.
Things have not started as expected for the Steelers. They’re still searching for a win after two weeks. A lot of people, in fact I would say most people, had high expectations for the Steelers this season. It’s going to be tough for the Steelers to dig themselves out of this hole if they go another week without getting a win. They have a tough game against the red hot Buccaneers, so if they can win it might give them the life they need to carry them through the rest of the year.
1-1 or 1-0-1 Teams
Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins are both 1-1. Guess who else is 1-1? The Philadelphia Eagles. Right now there’s a three way tie for the division lead, and none of these teams want to fall behind, especially not the Cowboys or Redskins. If they can keep that tie with or be above the defending Super Bowl champions early in the season, it will only help them as the season goes on.
New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers
None of these teams are leading their division right now, but they’re all tied for second place with a 1-1 record. This is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, and nobody wants to fall into last place. Even though it’s early in the season and there’s still a lot of time left, being more than one game back leaves a lot of ground to make up already.
Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings
Last week these two teams tied, showing us how closely matched they really are. Pretty much everyone has to believe these are the two teams truly competing for the NFC North crown. Like the other teams tied in their divisions right now, neither the Packers or Vikings want to fall behind. Both teams need to win to either get ahead or stay tied in their division.
Both the Broncos and Chiefs are 2-0, but the Chiefs have been the more convincing team in my opinion. If the Chiefs lose a game before the Broncos do, I wouldn’t lose any confidence in them winning the division. If the Broncos fell behind the Chiefs, I would lose confidence in them winning the division. Denver needs to win this week to stay tied with, or possibly get ahead of their division rivals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nobody thought the Buccaneers would be 2-0 right now. This game isn’t a must win because the Buccaneers are bad and need to stay tied in their division. Instead it’s because they need to prove to us all that they’re for real. Wins over the Saints, Eagles, and Steelers would be one heck of a start to their season and would make us all start to really believe in the Buccaneers.