Why Brisbane are already playing for their finals lives
RUGBY league legend Wally Lewis says Thursday night's Queensland derby against the Cowboys will be the game to decide the Broncos' finals' fate.
Both teams will need to bounce back from a horror show weekend by all three Queensland NRL teams, having been outscored in a combined 126-14 whacking.
The trio of losses to the Cowboys, Broncos and Titans means Queensland faces a finals blackout for the first time since 1991.
This week's blockbuster Queensland derby now shapes as a must-win for both the Cowboys and the Broncos with defeat sealing the loser's fate.
Lewis said he expected both teams to step up and put in their best performances of the year such was the intensity of the interstate rivalry.
"This game is going to be imperative," Lewis said.
"It's a make-or-break game.
"It's certainly one that both of them need.
"For the loser, this will be the game that they say it's the end of the road this time around.
"The competitive nature of both teams will be rising to the occasion this week.
"Whenever they play each other, it's the best game of the season.
"We'll see both teams give their best performance of the season so far. I'm quite confident that's what we'll see because whether it's respect or hatred for the other team, they know there's embarrassment or pride with the result of the game."
The Cowboys' season was all but ended last week following their 28-4 loss to the Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
Mathematically, they can still make the top eight if they defeat the likes of the Broncos, Knights and Storm in the final five rounds and results from other games go their way.
Brisbane have dropped to 10th following their 40-4 caning to ladder-leaders Melbourne on Friday night, putting their season on life support.
The Titans are bound for the wooden spoon after going down to the Roosters in a 58-6 shellacking at the SCG.
Lewis said the situation facing the Queensland clubs was not looking good.
"We've been saying this for 10 weeks," he said.
"The Broncos appear to be the most likely to make it into the top eight - if any of them do."
Former NRL great Corey Parker said watching this year's season as a Queensland fan was not easy.
"We have one at 16th, 13th and 10th and with five weeks remaining, it would seem two aren't going to make the eight," Parker said.
"The possibility of one Queensland side playing finals football, from a Queensland perspective, is hard to take considering the strength we have in all three sides."
Live stream the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership on KAYO SPORTS. Every game of every round live & anytime on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14 day free trial.