We in the media are usually guilty of throwing out certain terms in sports that aren’t actually applicable, and possibly the guiltiest phrase of them all is “must win.” It’s week 2 of the NFL season–thus, no team faces a “must win” moment.
For those interested, must win games are saved for those games in which when a team loses, they are eliminated. Obviously, any NFL playoff game is a “must win” situation. The problem is, we haven’t really coined the phrase that would fit for the next tier down the ladder from “must.”
Once we figure out what that word is, feel free to apply it to this Sunday’s Raiders game. If they don’t win they’ll be 0-2 for the 4th time in the past 6 seasons, and the “Here we go again” chorus will be resounding throughout Raider Nation. And with good reason. I mean, it’s not like Drew Brees and the Saints are marching into town.
No, instead it’s rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams. The 1-15 Rams from a year ago. That’s why the Raiders really need to win this one on Sunday. But “need win” just isn’t as sexy as “must win.”
Nonetheless, Vegas thinks it’s a game the Raiders should win. For just the third time in 2+ seasons, the Raiders find themselves favorites. Of course, the other two times they not only didn’t cover, but lost straight up. This time has to be different. A loss at home to the Rams would be devastating not only for their record, but for the morale of the entire team. A rookie quarterback making his 2nd career start, and first ever on the road–the stars are aligned for the Raiders to even their record after two weeks of play, and 1-1 is much more reasonable than 0-2.
1-1 means they head to Arizona in a good frame of mind.
0-2 is a disaster.
1-1 means, hey, we can do this. We righted the ship. It’s only the Rams, but a win is a win.
0-2 is Titanic time. The ship is going down. It’s no iceberg, but it’s a lonnnnnnng season ahead. An 8th straight year of double-digit losses.
1-1 and the players have rebounded. They’ve bought into Head Coach Tom Cable’s system.
0-2 and Cable is on the hot seat. Really early for that, but someone’s gonna roll, and it ain’t gonna be the kick-return guy.
1-1 and the Raiders could be tied for first.
0-2 and the Raiders are in last. Tied with nobody. Last is last.
The Raiders have to win this game. They need to win this game. They should win this game. It’s just not a “must win”. Or is it?