Who really has a shot at drafting Andrew Luck? Who's plummeting in free-fall towards the bottom of the barrel, and who's losing out by inexplicably winning? Here's the leading contenders.
1. Miami Dolphins. They opted not to fire Sparano during the lockout, why mess with a winning (at losing) formula? If Sparano's tenure was any more lame duck, the team's uniform accent color would be a l'orange. There has been talk among some pundits that now is the time to go get Orton, but with 11/16ths of his 9 million dollar salary still due, I find it hard to believe they would. Besides, the owner has the option of selling tickets one of two ways: build a winning team and tradition, or draft Andrew Luck. He is pushing the EASY button in Miami this year.
2. Indianpolis Colts. The latest news is that Peyton is less than 50/50 on playing this season. Expect those odds to dwindle as 16 losses draws closer. Those odds nearly got a big boost when Indy somehow found a way to lead the hapless Chiefs in an actual NFL game played in front of fans and everything, but some good mid-game adjustments by the Colts coaching staff made sure the Chiefs were able to come from behind and win a 2nd! NFL game.
3. St. Louis Rams. They are moving on up. The Jefferson's have nothing on this bunch, who are happy to report that they only have 5 home games left to gag. In related news, StubHub is reporting that St. Louis fans have bogged their servers with tickets for sale. While how much the Rams would want to draft Luck may be a matter of debate, the kings' ransom they would receive for trading that spot is not. Don't worry Seattle fans, the Rams will somehow get themselves to a couple of wins. Their goal is not Luck, but Los Angeles.
4. Denver Broncos. More proof that Elway has no idea what he is doing in Denver: Tebow Time. All he did was nearly beat San Diego. To the 3 or 4 Bronco fans who have not become Tebow acolytes, worry not. John Fox has promised that after the bye week they will have "training camp" style practices especially for Tim Tebow. Wasn't training camp a total disaster for Tebow? With a game at Miami the week after the upcoming bye, Fox and Elway are apparently hoping for a training camp-style ass-kicking in Miami.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are also competing for a spot in LA. The only team on my list who might trade the rights to the top spot to Seattle also might just reconsider that stance if Gabbert continues to poop the bed. Which kind of means Seattle has no chance.
6. Minnesota Vikings. Their chances took a severe blow when the Arizona Cardinals came to town, who after Seattle's win remain the western team most committed to losing 10 AM starts. I told them to IR Purple Jesus, but did they listen? Nope. Come on Vikings, would you rather have a dozen or so years of Luck, or 3 years of Christian Ponder? The Vikings will probably fall off the list, their defense is good enough to get them a handful of wins.
7. Arizona Cardinals. The more likely it becomes that Whisenhunt gets fired, the higher the Cards will move up this list. Kolb is looking less like a quarterback and more like an albatross every week. If every running back makes Patrick Peterson flinch the way that Adrian Peterson does, Kolb won't be able to throw enough touchdowns to keep this suddenly irrelevant team anywhere but near the top of the Luckstakes.
Philadelphia and Carolina sport records of 1-4, but I have a hard time seriously including them in the race for the number one pick right now. Seattle is out of it. Like I said last week, this Seattle Defense is only a couple of attitude ticks away from winning a few games by itself. They played against the Giants like their attitude was ticked, and good for them. They put the loud but vocal Suck for Luck minority to bed, and thank goodness. With 3 games left against the Rams and Cards, it is highly unlikely that Seattle even drafts in the top 5, let alone grabs the top spot.