With just 6 games left in the regular season, the push for the playoffs is oficially on. Time for another round of 'Stock Up-Stock Down.'
Stock Up: Miami Dolphins
After starting the season 1-6, with their lone win coming against the Tennesee Titans, the Miami Dolphins have won 3 straight. This year looks a lot like last year, when the Dolphins surged to 6 straight wins late in the year. Miami's resurgence has miraculously started with Joey Harrington at QB, as free agent acquisition Daunte Culpepper still finds himself bothered by his surgically repaired right knee. The Fins could conceivably find themselves on the fringes of the playoff discussion if they were to take down Detroit at Ford Field tomorrow on Thanksgiving.
Stock Down: New Orleans Saints
The Saints started the season 5-1, but have since dropped 3-of-4, including back-to-back losses against the Steelers and Bengals. In those two games, QB Drew Brees has thrown for nearly 900 yards. It's the defense though that has been exposed. QBs Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer had their way with the Saints' secondary, and let's not forget the day Willie Parker had against the fron 7 of New Orleans. The Saints find themselves tied for the lead in the NFC South with Carolina, but are dangerously close to falling out of contention, especially when you take a look at their schedule. New Orleans still has to travel to play the Cowboys and the Giants before finshing their season at the Super Dome against the Carolina Panthers.
Stock Up: Dallas Cowboys
People in the Big D are wondering why Bill Parcells didn't pull the plug on veteran QB Drew Bledsoe earlier than he did. I was critical of the move, but am happy to admit that I was wrong. Tony Romo has been extremely solid for the Cowboys, leading the team to back-to-back victories since the last-second debaucle against the Redskins. Dallas now finds itself tied for the NFC East lead with the struggling and banged up NY Giants. Next up? A Turkey Day game against the mediocre Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Stock Down: Minnesota
Things are coming apart at the seams in Minnesota. In all reality though, the Vikings' record is about where it should be considering their personnel. After their blowout of the Seahawks a month ago, the Vikings appeared to be legitimate contenders for a Wild Card spot in the NFC. Now they'll be fortunate to level their record at .500 by season's end. The Vikings do have some things to build on for the future, but for now they're in a tailspin, and will most likely stay in one for the rest of 2006.
Stock Up: San Diego
The Chargers are for real. Phillip Rivers and LaDanian Tomlinson have carried this team while the defense is recovering from a rash of injuries and suspensions. The Chargers have given up a slew of points during their current 4 game winning streak, but the offense has picked up the slack, absolutely crushing opponents in the 2nd half of football games. LaDanian Tomlinson is on pace to shatter Shaun Alexander's nascent TD record, and first-year QB Phillip Rivers has catapulted himself into the top-5 in passer rating without experiencing any of the growing pains many young, inexperienced QBs typically have. The Chargers very well may be the team to beat in the AFC.
Stock Down: Philadelphia
What has happened in Philadlephia? After starting the season 4-1, the Eagles have fallen apart and now find themselves at 5-5 and in desperation mode. QB Donovan McNabb is lost for the season, meaning Jeff Garcia is now in charge of turning things around sooner rather than later. The good news for Philly is that they are still only 1 game back of front-runners Dallas and NY. The bad news is they're playing terrible football, having most recently lost to Tennessee...at home. Things aren't going to get any easier for Philadelphia either. The Eagles play 4 of their next 5 games away from home, including road contests at Indianaplis, New York, and Dallas.