Rhinos have moved up a place in the First Utility Super League table – to third from bottom – after Salford Red Devils were deducted six points for breaching the salary cap in 2014 and 2015.
But if Leeds lose to 12th-placed Huddersfield and Salford – who are now 11th – beat Hull KR on Saturday, Rhinos will drop to the bottom of the ladder.
Defeat would have seen them go bottom before Salford’s deduction and acting-captain Rob Burrow insisted: “We need to win.”
He said: “Looking at the league table and the way the season has gone so far for both teams, it is a massive game.
“If there is ever going to be any incentive to put extra effort in, it’s going to be for this game.
“We are disappointed we didn’t win at St Helens last week, but – I know I have said it a million times – we will keep plugging away.
“We have got to shake it off and get back on with the job.
“When you lose and don’t look interested, that is a worrying sign, but when you lose and you have put your heart and soul into it – like we did – I think as a player and a fan you can appreciate that.
“We are trying our socks off.”
Burrow reckons the performance in the 38-34 loss at Saints could mark a turning point in Rhinos’ season.
Leeds trailed 10-0 after seven minutes, but hit back to lead twice and were in the game until the final moments, despite losing four players to injury.
The veteran No 7 – who captained the team in place of the injured Danny McGuire – said: “It was another loss, but – to be captain when we play like that – I was really proud of the lads.
“I have played in Grand Finals and games like that, but I thought at times we matched the effort we’ve put into Grand Finals.
“We lost and we aren’t getting carried away, but whenever you put in that effort things will turn round.
“I would like to think the effort shown on Friday was a bit of a turning point – it was a lot better than the week before (against Hull), even though we got the win.
“We had no substitutes for the last 20 or 30 minutes and we were playing a team who play quick, but we were matching them and we kept coming back at them.
“I am not getting away from the fact it was another loss and and we need to regroup, but certainly we took massive strides from where we’ve been this season so far.”
Giants have won just twice this year, but one of those was an 11-0 success over league leaders Warrington Wolves in their previous home game.
And Huddersfield were unlucky not to win at Wigan Warriors, who are third, six days ago.
“They are bottom of the league and Wigan went top, but there was hardly anything in it for most of the time,” Burrow commented of the Giants’ last game.
“It shows the strength of Super League.”
Meanwhile, the date for Leeds Rhinos’ Challenge Cup sixth-round tie at Huddersfield has been confirmed as Friday, May 6 (8pm).