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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

The NFL Stock Exchange: What teams to buy or sell ahead of the playoffs


As we enter the home stretch of the NFL season, the top teams pull away from the rest and the bottom teams start to look towards next year. In between the two, is a bloodbath between the middle of the pack, a rush of .500-roaming teams looking to make a last second playoff push. It is pure chaos every Sunday. For many teams in the NFL’s middle-class, one win or loss at this point can be the difference maker in whether they make or miss the playoffs. As we gear in for week 14, here are my picks for which team’s playoff stock will surge and which are due for a major downturn.

BUY: Green Bay Packers

It hasn’t been without uncertainty, but the Packers new era has entered in full effect, and it looks special. After a rough start to the season, first-year starter Packers QB Jordan Love found himself crushed by the weight of Aaron Rodgers’ torch and leading the Packers into a treacherous season, standing at a 3-6 record at the season’s midpoint. Now picking up three straight wins, the team has hit their stride in full fledge with statement wins over the Lions and Chiefs consecutively.

Love has undergone an extremely impressive and sudden transformation, from one of the league’s worst starting quarterbacks to one of the most efficient, with an 104.7 passer rating and a 10:2 touchdown to interception ratio over the past three games. Love has been an excellent leader of the Packers young and dynamic offense, and with HC Matt LaFleur orchestrating it all, they’ve arisen as one of the NFC’s most dangerous teams. With the Giants, Buccaneers, and Panthers next up on their schedule, the Packers have a playoff berth in their clutches.


SELL: Seattle Seahawks

It’s hard to remember the brief period after Week 8 when the Seahawks led the NFC West. It feels like it’s been years for Pete Carroll and company. The Seahawks have lost four of their last five games, sliding down to the outskirts of the playoff picture. It hasn’t been graceful either, getting bulldozed by the 49ers and the Ravens and losing for the second time this season to a significantly less talented Rams roster.

This past Thursday night against Dallas, the Seahawks had an opportunity to turn the tides of their season and score a big win on the road, but Geno Smith’s poor crunch-time decision-making cost them the game. While their defensive regression and misuse of offensive weapons like Jaxon Smith-Njigba factor into the equation, the man under center is ultimately the source of the Seahawks’ disappointment.

It turns out Geno Smith works better as an underdog spearheading an unexpected playoff run than the leader of a top-dog football team, and the Seahawks have found that out the hard way as his passer rating has fallen while their loss column has grown. Their next two matchups, the 49ers and Eagles, will be the nail in the coffin of their playoff hopes. The Seahawks are prey, not predator, of the NFC.


BUY: Denver Broncos

2 and a half months ago, on the last edition of the NFL Stock Exchange, I wrote about the Los Angeles Rams, “A great quarterback and a great coach will make it work.” I believed that even if there were shortcomings and struggles, when you pair a great quarterback with a great head coach, you get results. When the Broncos fell to an abysmal 1-5 record, however, I didn’t keep the same outlook. I had no confidence that Russell Wilson and Sean Payton would figure it out in Denver, no one did. Well, kick-started by a shocking 24-9 win against the Chiefs and followed up by a road win against the Bills, the Broncos would win five straight games straight.

Most importantly, Russell Wilson and Sean Payton have gotten on the same page. With the help of Wilson’s almost robotic efficiency, Payton has done an excellent job fully realizing Denver’s offensive potential. But many of the Broncos’ games have been won on the defensive side of the field, locking down both on the rush defense and pass defense, allowing one of the fewest point totals in the league since week 6. They’ve come a long way from the Broncos team that gave up 70 to the Dolphins and 23 in one half to the Jets.

Their fiery hot run came to a halt this past Sunday against the Texans who knocked them back down to .500, but there’s nothing to back up that this is anything more than a glitch in the system for the Broncos. Russell Wilson threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, his first fourth quarter interceptions of the entire season. You won’t see a performance from Wilson like this again this season. I can guarantee it. With a winnable schedule of the Chargers twice, the Lions, the Patriots, and the Raiders, the Broncos stand at a good vantage point for a Wild Card playoff berth. Against all odds, the Broncos have willed themselves out of a 1-5 hole. Russell Wilson and Sean Payton won’t let it go to waste.

SELL: Indianapolis Colts

Everybody loves Gardner Minshew. Losing their rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson only five games in the season, the Colts watched their low expectations for the season sink even further. Stepping in for Richardson, beloved career-backup Gardner Minshew, supplemented by an elite running back duo of Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor as well as Coach of the Year candidate Shane Steichen, has led a grassroots playoff push that’s culminated in a four-game win streak and a 7-5 record. It’s an exciting run, but let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s not a good team.

The Colts have trudged along with a +4 point differential, the second-lowest of any team above .500, despite having the 6th easiest schedule in the league according to ESPN analytics. The Colts’ four-win tear has been against the Panthers, Patriots, Buccaneers, and Titans who have a collective win-loss record of 12-36, two of which they barely scraped by.

‘Minshew Mania’ has invigorated the Colts locker room and fanbase, but a look at the stat sheet reveals a shaky 9:7 touchdown to interception ratio over his 8 starts this season. The Colts’ remaining schedule isn’t bad on paper with the Bengals, Steelers, Falcons, Raiders, and Texans, four of which have worse records, but are we sure the Colts are actually better than any of these teams? The Colts’ playoff hopes are about to come to earth.


Week 14 of the NFL kicks off tonight with the Patriots at Steelers.

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About the Contributor
Sam Dababneh
Sam Dababneh, Review Editor & Asst. Sports Editor
Sam Dababneh is a Sophmore at Niles North High school. This is his second year on North Star News.

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