We’ve entered the beginning of the stretch run of the 2015 NFL season, where teams are going to stake a claim as legitimate playoff contenders or are going to find themselves thinking about who they are going to take in next year’s draft. These are the most crucial wins on a team’s calendar, and also the most difficult. While several squads find themselves in need of a crucial victory this weekend — and, sure, every win in the NFL is crucial to some degree — the following three teams are the ones in must win situations in Week 11. So, let’s begin, starting with the Super Bowl runner-up from a season ago.
3. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are 4-5 on the season and currently find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the NFC playoff picture. Pretty hard to believe when you think about the recent success of this franchise, but it’s been tough sledding for Seattle through nine games. All of their losses have been tight, and they’ve held late leads in each occasion, only to let the victory slip away at the end. Last weekend’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals was as painful as any for the Seahawks, as they are almost out of contention for the NFC West title now. All of that makes this weekend’s mathcup against the San Francisco 49ers crucial for the defending conference champs.
Luckily for Seattle, San Francisco has struggled for a majority of the season and is a team in a major state of flux. With Blaine Gabbert now at quarterback, it would be shocking to see the Seahawks lose this game, especially since the game is on their home turf. That doesn’t diminish the importance of this game. Seattle can’t afford to lose many more games if they want to compete for a wild card spot and the schedule will only get more difficult after this one. That makes this game their most important of the season to date.
2. Buffalo Bills
The Bills got a huge win over the division rival New York Jets last Thursday night, giving the team their first two-game winning streak of the season. If the season ended today, Buffalo would be in the playoffs for the first time since the turn of the century, as head coach Rex Ryan as his team playing really well right now. Despite all that, this Monday’s game against another division rival is a must win for the Bills.
The New England Patriots are still the class of the AFC East by a long shot, holding a 9-0 record in their attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions. That’s what Buffalo has on its plate in Week 11. If they can win this game and end the Patriots unbeaten run while earning their third consecutive victory, it’s going to do huge things for the Bills. They’ll be firmly in control for a wild card spot with six games remaining and it will give them serious momentum that could carry them through the end of the season. However, if they lose, they’ll be back at the .500 mark and will be seeking answers. They can probably afford the loss, but don’t let that fool you; the Bills need this game on so many levels. This game is why they went out and made big moves in the offseason. They’ll be fired up, and the Patriots better be ready.
1. Green Bay Packers
Just a few short weeks ago, the Packers were riding high at 6-0 and firmly in control of their destiny. Now, the team has suddenly lost three straight games and is in danger of losing a grip on their season. That’s reason enough to say that Green Bay could really use a victory this Sunday, but when you see who they are playing it truly becomes a must win scenario for the Packers.
The now NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings will play host to Green Bay this weekend as winners of five straight games. The Vikings defense has been playing excellent, which will provide even more issues for Aaron Rodgers. Adrian Peterson is also running extremely well for the Vikings, which will cause issues for Green Bay’s defense. With a one-game deficit in the division entering the weekend to Minnesota, it’s critical that the Packers find a way to win this weekend. They can’t afford to fall two games behind the Vikings if they plan on winning the NFC North and losing a fourth straight game would further dent the dwindling confidence of the team. In all honesty, it isn’t a great situation with how well Minnesota is playing right now, but Green Bay has to find a way to rise up and get the job done on the road in Week 11.