The Chicago Bears may be in serious trouble over the next six weeks.
Buy or sell: The Bears are in serious trouble
Buy: The Bears were going to be in some trouble whether Jay Cutler was injured or not, because of their particularly brutal schedule over the last six weeks of the season. The team has four divisional games against the Vikings (twice), Packers and Lions to end the season--and if Cutler does not return soon, they might miss the playoffs entirely.
It almost sounds ridiculous to suggest that a team which was 7-1 just a few weeks ago could completely miss the playoffs, but it is possible. If the team were to lose three of the next six games (which is very likely, especially without Cutler), they would end the season 10-6—a record that might not be enough to win the wild card spot. There are currently three 6-4 teams fighting for a playoff spot, so if the Bears don’t turn things around very quickly they might be on the outside looking in.
Buy or Sell: Tampa Bay will make the playoffs
Sell: Tampa Bay has been playing fantastic over the last six weeks and look like a potential playoff threat-- the only issue stopping them is their schedule. The Buccaneers play the Broncos, Saints, and Falcons (twice) over the next six weeks. They will almost certainly lose their next two games against the Atlanta and Denver and be faced with a 6-6 record heading into the last four weeks of the season.
Seattle is probably locked into one of the final playoffs spots simply due to their relatively easy schedule over the next six weeks, so while it is possible for Tampa Bay to make the playoffs, they would have to go at least 4-2 over the next six games and hope any tie-break situations fall in their favor.
Buy or Sell: The Redskins still have a shot at winning the NFC East
Buy: Washington is a game and a half behind the New York Giants for the NFC East division lead. The Giants are in the middle of a two game losing streak and play the Packers on Sunday, and finish off their season with games against the Redskins, Saints, Falcons, Ravens and Eagles. If the Giants don’t turn things around they could conceivably end their season 8-8 or 9-7 and open the door for the Washington to sneak past them for the division lead.
The Redskins are only 5-6, but they play the Giants next week and have three extremely winnable against the Eagles, Browns and Cowboys (at home) to end the season. If Washington does not make and any mistakes, they could easy end the season with a 9-7 record.
Buy or Sell: Colin Kaepernick should start over Alex Smith this week
Sell: Reports have indicated that Coach Jim Harbaugh will likely start Kaepernick this week against the Saints. While I understand Harbaugh’s logic of going with the ‘hot hand’, this move has all the potential to back fire. Kaepernick may very well be the better quarterback and long term solution for the 49ers, but the team is in the middle of a Super Bowl contending season and now is not the time to mess with team chemistry. Quarterbacks are notoriously sensitive and fragile and making the move from Smith to Kaepernick after one good start, will undoubtedly destroy Smith’s confidence. The 49ers were good enough to win a Super Bowl with Smith as quarterback, and Harbaugh may of just thrown their title hopes away.