It’s the time in the season for NFL teams in the playoff hunt to make that late push and there are a number of teams playing today that need nothing more than a big win to keep their hopes alive. Some teams have already clinched spots, while others have absolutely no chance. These are the teams in that middle ground that have to step up now, ore else they will be watching the games on TV come playoff time. Here’s a look at three games featuring playoff hopefuls in must-win scenarios.
Chicago Bears 8-4 at Minnesota Vikings 6-6
Tied atop the NFC North with Green Bay entering the week, the Bears could certainly use a win today, but they don’t necessarily need one just yet at 8-4. On the other hand, Minnesota desperately needs a win this week to stay in the hunt and there wouldn’t be many teams better to do it against than Chicago, as a win would trim their lead over the Vikes to one game in the North and in the wild card.
Although the Bears have won six straight over the Vikings, Minnesota is a team that plays much better at home (5-1) this season. The Vikings will also be facing a Bears defense that will be a little more toothless without star and leader Brian Urlacher, who was injured near the end of last week’s loss to Seattle .
Look for Minnesota to get the win, cover +3 points in the process.
Baltimore Ravens 9-3 at Washington Redskins 6-6
The Ravens are coming off a tough loss to the Steelers, whereas the Redskins are coming off a big win against the Giants, but they will need to keep things going this week, as they are still a game behind the men in blue in the NFC East.
The Redskins should continue to have success running the game this week against the Ravens who rank 23rd in the league in defending the run. The Skins also should be able to limit the Ravens’ explosive running game with Ray Rice, as Washington brings in the 4th best run defense.
The Ravens have had a great season, but they don’t match up particularly well with the Redskins. I like Washington to cover -3 points at home and earn the victory, keeping them in the hunt.
Dallas Cowboys 6-6 at Cincinnati Bengals 7-5
This games features two teams in need of a win this week. Dallas is in the same position as Washington, one game back of the Giants in the East, while the Bengals are vying for one of the wild card spots in the AFC, currently tied with Pittsburgh.
Dallas, one of the league’s worst rushing teams, will have to get things going on the ground if they want to upset the Bengals on the road, while the Bengals will look to attack Dallas on the ground as well. The Cowboys rank 17th in rush defense.
I like the Bengals to cover -3 points at home today against a Cowboys team that is still one of the most inconsistent in the league.