Chris Wilder’s men are rooted to the bottom of the table having taken just two points from their opening 17 top flight matches this term, and are currently 12 points adrift of safety.
They come up against a Newcastle side who have struggled for form of late themselves, and who are on a run of five Premier League games without a win.
Looking ahead to this evening’s meeting, Francis told Sky Sports News’ Football Show that he believes it could represent a key point in the Blades’ ailing campaign.
“Speaking about tonight’s game, it’s huge – huge for both teams as well”, the former Bournemouth defender said.
"Newcastle are under a little bit of pressure, they need to get a result against Sheffield United, but if Sheffield United pick up points, that could be the kickstart they need.
"We spoke about the top teams and how they need to know their best XI, and I think that’s what Sheffield United have really struggled with.
"They paid a lot of money for Rhian Brewster, and you almost feel like they’re not playing him every single week to get the goals. They’re changing that strike partnership, changing their team, and even their formation at times.
"It’s a tough one for Chris Wilder, but tonight is almost make or break for them.”
Fellow pundit Jason Euell echoed Francis’ sentiments, arguing that a defeat against the Magpies could leave Wilder’s side in a perilous position.
He said: “I think when we look at stats and what’s happened over previous years, you always look at the team that’s bottom at Christmas are normally the ones that end up getting relegated.
"If it is the result that goes against them today, it’ll be very, very hard for them to survive for the rest of the season in the Premier League.”
The Blades struggled against Newcastle last season, losing both top flight meetings against Steve Bruce’s men by an aggregate score of 5-0.