Projecting where we'll finish is becoming a bit easier to predict. We have so many injuries to our line-backing core and now with the loss of Dwan Edwards, it's become almost impossible to imagine us being able to win against the Vikings or the Browns - both should be able to run all over us. Then there's the beat up Dolphins, which I give us a 50/50 chance, only to then face two juggernauts in the Patriots and Jets. If the Patriots win this week, then they might both be playing for home field advantage, which will make our chances almost NIL. This leads me to think that the most probable outcome is 2-14 or 3-13.
Secretly I am hoping for 2-14 only because I really think Luck is the next Peyton Manning. He looks so impressive week in and week out that it's hard not to be impressed with the kid. I love what's happened with Fitzy, and I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong about the guy. He's proven that he can be more than a career backup, he really has done a lot with this opportunity and he has really done well in the Gailey system. That being said, I think guys like Luck are extremely rare and when you have an opportunity to draft a guy of that caliber, you certainly cannot pass-up on the opportunity. I think the fact that this kid comes from Stanford makes it almost a sure bet. I can't see how there's a risk of this kid being another Ryan Leaf, i really can't. He is as close to a sure bet home run as we've seen in the past 20 years! Look at how much Peyton Manning has meant to his team and the fans, how could we ever consider taking that kind of a chance?
On that note, I decided to take a look at the top 6 draft spots and how it could finish (after the jump)
Currently our competition for the top spot in the draft is:
Carolina at 1-10
The only two games where they might have half of a chance is Seattle or Arizona. I am silently cheering for Claussen to find his groove and finish the season strong. If he can show some solid upside, I think Carolina might not waste their top pick on a QB. They need some serious help at the WR position and guys like AJ don't come around every day so I think Carolina would love to see Claussen show some signs so that they can go in a different direction. Prediction: I think they could finish 2-14 (possibly winning against Arizona at home) but even if they do, their strength of schedule would still leave them in the top position.
Cincy at 2-9
Unless Palmer suddenly finds his groove, I highly doubt they win another game this year. Every single team except for Cleveland is in the hunt and should be till the end, except for maybe Baltimore, which might be resting their top guys on Jan 2. The unfortunate part for us is that Palmer is probably toast after this season and they don't have another guy behind him so they will be in the Luck market - that's a certainty! Our only chance is if they find a way to win against the Browns and/or Ravens. Their strength of schedule should turn out to be superior to ours but unfortunately for us we own the tie breaker so we need them to win at least 1-2 more games to have a chance at Luck. Prediction: 2-14.
Denver at 3-8
After moving up to get Tebow, I highly doubt that they'd be in the QB market come draft day but I guess you never know. The good news is that I think they'd be more interested in improving their D-Line, shoring up their Rush defense. I also think they should win at least 1 more, both the Arizona and Houston games are winnable. My Prediction at this point: 5-11
Arizona at 3-8
Unfortunately for us, I highly doubt that they win another game this season. They have been crappy as of late and their QB situation is probably the worse in the entire league. If they are smart, they won't try too hard from here on out. They are poised for the 3rd overall pick and if I'm right about the Panthers, then they'd be in the driver's seat for the Luck sweepstakes. Prediction 3-13
Dallas at 3-8
I see them winning the match up against Arizona. This team will stick with Romo who is still in his prime. Prediction 4-12
Detroit at 2-9
I like the Lions but without Stafford the chances of them winning another game this year are slim at best. They are definitely set at QB even though there are still some serious questions about his ability to stay healthy, I can't see them destabilizing the locker room by going with a QB. I see the Lions as a prime candidate to swing a trade with come draft day. Prediction: 2-14
San Fran at 4-7
They should win one more, the last game against the Cards at home. This is a team that could very well be in the market for a first round QB even though Smith has played well considering the situation. My prediction: 5-11
Based on my predictions, here would be the draft order:
1st - Carolina (1-15)
2nd - Detroit (2-14)
3rd - Cincy (2-14)
4th - Buffalo (2-14)
5th - Arizona (3-13)
So in my humble opinion, even if we lose out we will still won't get first dibs on Luck. Luckily we might have some trade options available to us. I think both Carolina and Detroit will be actively trying to get Cincy or us to trade up for Luck. Luckily for us, I think Mike Brown is cheaper than Ralph so maybe we have a chance. What scares me is that Marvin is probably going to get fired, which means a new regime, which also normally means a new QB also.
Still, if Ralph was serious earlier this year when he said that our priority in the next draft was QB, then I think he'll make sure that Buddy finds a way to make it happen. I believe the odds are in our favor.
Now the biggest question is.... Will Luck declare?