The Magpies finished fifth in the table last season but have struggled in 2012-13 and are currently fifth bottom, just two points above the relegation zone and five better than Saturday's opponents Reading.
Pardew, a former manager of Reading, knows the match at St James' Park will be a real barometer of the quality in his side, who have only won once in their last nine games in all competitions and currently have just 21 of his 40-point target.
"It's an important game for us and Reading," Pardew said.
"I still think you need that magic 40 points and that will be more than enough. We're capable of getting that."
"People talk about a six pointer and all that but this actually is between us two clubs and we can't hide from that."
"We need to get that distance between us and then strengthen and all of a sudden we will look a lot more rosy than we do sitting here today."
Pardew, who lost out to QPR boss Harry Redknapp in the hunt for striker Loic Remy's signature this week, admitted building a run of form is now vital to maintaining Newcastle's position in the top flight.
Southampton, who were in the bottom three in December, have since pieced together 10 points from their last seven games to move one point clear of the Magpies, while second-bottom Reading pulled off a remarkable late comeback against West Brom last weekend to secure their third win of the season.
Pardew said: "Momentum is very important and Southampton and Reading have picked up some momentum which is a very strong tool to have in the Premier League."
"You believe you are going to win. Even last week, Reading were 2-0 down with seven or eight minutes to go and end up winning the game (3-2)."
"It was quite rare that would happen but they had the belief to get something out of it and that's what we need to gain."
"There are better teams than the one I am managing that have gone down. I could argue that QPR on paper are stronger than ours in terms of depth.
"I'm not sure about the starting XI but we haven't had the starting XI out all year. We need to strengthen, our players need to show some discipline and character and I've no doubt they will."
Newcastle's league form this season lies in stark contrast with their fortunes last term, when they finished in a Europa League spot with 65 points.
Pardew admits new players and a change to their game plan is needed to stop the rot and start moving up the table.
He said: "Our fans have been particularly faithful and loyal as we've had a tough spell with things going against us."
"Now we've just got to find a way and that's just what we're going to have to do. Our game plan last year and the way we played a little bit might need to change to make sure we continue being a stable Premiership side then look to next year to start going back to attacking the top of the league."
"I think that's where we're at and I think our fans realise that. For us it's about getting the right complement of players, making sure we're strong and putting some excitement on that football pitch between now and the end of the year."
"In the first half of the season I don't think it has been good enough and that's me the manager saying that."
"Defensively we need to tighten up and I think we did that at Norwich and against Everton too against a really good side so I think we're showing signs of that."
"Showing signs is not good enough. We've got to deliver and start winning."