Buffalo's 28-9 Week 17 win over the Jets cost the Bills 2 spots in the 2013 NFL Draft, falling from 6th pick to 8th pick. Will it be a win that comes back to haunt us? Lets look at some late wins that dealt devastating blows to these franchises in the past 8 years:
2010 Season/2011 Draft
The Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers in week 16 to improve to 7-8. To be fair, it was not a meaningless game, it was a de facto semi-final game. A 49er win in week 16 and 17 would bring them to 7-9, and a NFC West Division Championship. The Rams needed to win week 16 and to defeat the Seahawks Week 17 to get to 8-8 and win the NFC West.
The Rams beat the 49ers, who finished the season 6-10, but lost the following week to Seattle to finish out of the playoffs at 7-9. The 7-9 Seahawks hosted the New Orleans Saints in the Playoffs and won behind that beastly Marshawn Lynch run.
The 49ers win haunted the Saints come draft time, the 49ers picked 7th and selected Aldon Smith. Four picks later, the Texans selected J.J. Watt. Three picks after that, the Rams were finally on the clock, selecting DE Robert Quinn. While Quinn has been good with 15.5 sacks and 4 passes defended in 31 games, he has not shown the game changing ability Smith (33.5 sacks in 32 games) and Watt (26 sacks, 20 passes defended in 32 games) have shown. Had St. Louis lost to the 49ers, they would have drafted 7th, and would have had their pick of Smith or Watt in the 2011 Draft.
2009 Season/2010 Draft
The Titans capped their climb from 0-6 to 8-8 with a Week 17 win over the Seattle Seahawks. With the win, the Titans picked 16th in the NFL Draft, and selected Derrick Morgan. Morgan had only 4 sacks in his first 19 games but picked up his production in 2012 with 6.5 sacks in 16 games this year.
Had the Titans lost week 17, they would have been able to select Jason Pierre Paul, who was selected 15th overall by the Giants. JPP has played all 48 games of his career and has 27.5 career sacks, 17 more than Morgan.
2007 Season/2008 Draft
The Bears beat their arch-rival Green Bay Packers in Week 16 which is understandable, but when they beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 17, they put themselves down to the 14th pick in the draft. The Bears in need of QB protection, drafted Chris Williams out of Vanderbilt. Williams never established himself as a starter and was cut in 2012. Had the Bears lost Week 17, they would have been able to draft Ryan Clady. Clady was instead drafted by the Broncos, and in 2013 he will make his 4th straight Pro Bowl appearance.
2006 Season/2007 Draft
The Steelers won week 17 in OT over Cincinnati, they also won Week 15 over Carolina. As a result Carolina ended the season 1 spot ahead of the Steelers in the draft. The Steelers have been one of the best teams in the NFL since the 2006 season, however their achilles heel (outside of injuries) has been their corners. Poor corner play cost them the Super Bowl against Green Bay, almost cost them the Super Bowl against Arizona and cost them last year's playoff game against Tim Tebow's Broncos.
Well in the 2007 draft, Pittsburgh native, University of Pittsburgh star Darrelle Revis was on the board until Carolina traded the 14th pick to the Jets. The Jets selected Revis, and the Meadowlands has become Revis Island to opposing Wide Receivers. Had the Steelers lost week 15 or 17, and drafted Revis, there is no telling how many more Silver Trophies would have ended up in the Steel City.
2005 Season/2006 Draft
The Browns beat the hated Ravens on week 17. The Ravens are 12-2 against the Browns since then, winners of 10 in a row. One reason for this is one of the biggest draft blunders of all time. Even with the win, the Browns selected ahead of the Ravens, the Browns had the 12 pick, the Ravens had the 13 pick. The Ravens traded with the Browns, and selected Haloti Ngata. The Browns with the 13th pick selected Kamerion Wimbley. With the trade, the Browns got Wimbley and a pick that would end up being Babatunde Oshinowo. Oshinowo played 1 game for the Browns.
Wimbley recorded 26.5 sacks in 4 seasons with the Browns, but Cleveland won only 23 games during that time, including a 10-win season in 2007 that did not result in a playoff berth. The Browns QBs during this time: Derek Anderson, Charlie Frye, Ken Dorsey and Brady Quinn.
Which brings us back to the 2006 draft, losing to Baltimore wouldn't have prevented the Ravens from getting Ngata, however with a loss, Cleveland would have had the 11th pick and St. Louis would have had the 12th pick. St. Louis traded their 11 pick to Denver for Quarterback Jay Cutler. Had the Browns lost to the Ravens, they could have picked up a franchise QB in Cutler with the 11th pick.
and finally, no list of blunders is complete without the Bills...
2003 Season/2004 Draft
My most hated draft of all time, the time we traded up to get JP Losman. After beating the Patriots 31-0 and demolishing the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bills fans thought the team was finally back. By December, the Bills were 4-7 after a 4-game losing streak.
Under the Bounty Master himself, the Bills showed his trademark grit, and made a last push for the playoffs. The Bills climbed to 6-7 defeating the Giants and the Jets in back to back weeks. Then the Bills lost a heartbreaker to Tennessee and got blown out by the Dolphins and Patriots by a combined score of 51-3. The Bills finished 6-10, drafted 13th overall and selected WR Lee Evans.
Had the Bills lost to either the Jets or Giants and finished at 5-9, they would have picked 11th instead of 13th, one spot ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers at 12 selected Ben Roethlisberger and 22 months later celebrated a Super Bowl Championship. With the 11th pick, the Bills could have selected Big Ben and ended their long search for the next great Buffalo Quarterback.