The sense of urgency for the Chicago Bears has to be at a new high Sunday when they host the struggling Los Angeles Chargers.
If not, the situation can deteriorate from panic, to surrender and acceptance in the matter of a week.
"We're full tilt," linebacker Danny Trevathan said.
The Bears have been offered an easy out all week long, with talk about how they are 3-3 and were at the same point last year – even the path leading to it seemed similar in many ways. They had the big road upset to Oakland just like a road upset loss to Miami last year in unusual conditions, then a loss to a Super Bowl contender at home the next week.
It's different, however, as the quality of play by the Bears just hasn't been there and last year the Packers weren't 6-1 and the Vikings 5-2. Now it has to be better, or they'll wind up like the Chargers as a team with a three-game losing streak and only hoping for a miracle finish to scratch back into the playoff hunt.
"We all understand that at 3-3, that you're getting to a point, like I said last week, where every week that goes by matters," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "And there starts to become separation within the league."
The separation came for the Chargers in the last three weeks as they shot themselves in the foot in key situations. Losses to the Lions and last week to the Titans proved particularly excruciating.
Despite a passer as good as Philip Rivers and a nice complementary group of receivers, the Chargers have turned the ball over in goal-to-go situations five times. Get the Chargers near your goal line, and you've got them right where you want them. With only slightly better fortune, they'd be 4-3.
Then came the injuries to defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones, and now even the Bears might have a chance to run the ball for a change while facing a banged-up 21st-ranked run defense.
At least giving it to David Montgomery would be one way to keep Mitchell Trubisky away from the clutches of pass rusher Joey Bosa or Melvin Ingram.
"They are one of the top two tandem defensive ends in the game," Nagy said. "So just dominance, that's what I see."
Bears special teams seem to be doing what neither of the other two phases are. They've risen to No. 1 in the league in a Football Outsiders rating system for overall play. The defense has been there at times. Now the Bears are looking offensively for something, anything, to generate a spark, whether it comes from a long Tarik Cohen TD run on a short pass or a Montgomery run.
Nagy thinks it can come very quickly and escalate, even if last week's 102-yard kick return TD by Cordarrelle Patterson did fail to deliver a reviving jolt.
"So what we want is offensively, let's have that big play on offense to get that one spark," Nagy said. "And once you get that one spark, then it generates into another play and another. And that's what we're hoping we can do as far as wins."
They need something, anything to generate momentum and get the confidence back they seemed to lose after their defeat by Oakland in London.
It's true the tough times last year came about the same time as this season, but they came without a corresponding loss of confidence.
The Bears just seemed to pick it right back up and carry it to nine more wins over their last 10 games.
"I guess you can have confidence drawing back on past experiences, but nothing in the past determines the future," Trubisky said. "Nothing you did yesterday determines what you do tomorrow."
At least Trubisky already seems to have the back-against-the wall mentality Trevathan has.
Now the Bears have to hope it applies to everyone else.