The Andrew Luck Sweepstakes are fast approaching the midpoint of the 2011 season, and a new wrinkle has arisen in the battle for the bottom. Andrew Luck remains the consensus number one pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, but if an particular team goes to far in their "Suck For Luck" campaign, it might actually backfire.
An anonymous report has circulated in the NFL that Luck and his father might pull a power play to get to the team of their choice. Bay Area columnist Tim Kawakami does not believe Luck would pull that, but it is something that teams at the bottom have to at least consider. The number one pick has considerable value, but if Luck makes it known he is not pleased with the team at number one, the value goes down. Add in the potential of him returning for a fifth season at Stanford and it could develop into a huge mess.
That is something that will shake itself out in the offseason. For the regular season, the pure and glorious nature of the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes remains intact. After six games, here are the current winless and one-win teams:
1. Indianapolis Colts - 0-6
2. Miami Dolphins - 0-5
3. St. Louis Rams - 0-5
4. Minnesota Vikings - 1-5
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - 1-5
6. Carolina Panthers - 1-5
7. Denver Broncos - 1-4
8. Arizona Cardinals - 1-4
Week Six Elimination: Philadelphia Eagles
Throughout the early portion of the season, the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes will have teams start figuring out how to win (for good or bad) and likely start to eliminate themselves from the Sweepstakes. This week that team is the Philadelphia Eagles. Nobody considered them a realistic candidate for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, but they emphatically removed themselves from the equation with a big win at the Washington Redskins. They are only 2-4, but they are likely working their way back into the NFC East mix.
Co-Favorites: Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins
I was convinced the Indianapolis Colts were fate's favorite, but even fate might not be able to hold off the truly awful Miami Dolphins. The Colts have fate on their side but they continue to hang around with teams. This could eventually lead to them scoring a few upsets before season's end.
On the other hand, the Dolphins are just no good. They welcome the Denver Broncos this week in what would seem to be a winnable game, but before the season they actually planned a tribute to the 2008 University of Florida national championship team led by Tim Tebow. Yes, the same Tim Tebow making his first start of the 2011 season for the Denver Broncos. You can't make this stuff up.
Truly Tanking: Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos
While the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins are fairly bad, the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos are taking significant steps towards reaching that top draft spot. They both have quarterbacks that conceivably could be long term options, but if Luck is there and they've truly sucked this year, it is safe to say they would at least consider Luck at number one.
The Vikings jumped in on this when they decided to bench Donovan McNabb and give first round pick Christian Ponder a chance as the starting QB. While McNabb has been fairly awful this year, he had the ability to do just enough to potentially steal a few wins before the end of the season. We can NOT have that in 2011.
The Broncos have made a pair of moves to position themselves moving forward. They announced Tim Tebow would replace Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and they also traded wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to the St. Louis Rams. The Broncos are a mess right now and after starting the season as a dark horse favorite in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, they are on their way to possible favored status. This weekend in Miami will give us an idea how legit they are.
NFC West Stunted: St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals
These two remain the same as last week. They are stuck in a purgatory of being bad teams but stuck in a division where they could steal some wins against each other, knocking both out of contention.
Darkhorses: Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars
These two former expansion franchises are the remaining one win teams and both are hoping they found their franchise quarterback in the form of Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert. Both teams have had their struggles this season, but they also both appear capable of squeezing out a few upsets and removing themselves from contention. The Panthers would appear to be more likely to do that this weekend against the Washington Redskins.
Projected 2012 NFL Draft Top Five Picks
1. Miami Dolphins
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Denver Broncos
4. Minnesota Vikings
5. St. Louis Rams
Week 7 Andrew Luck Sweepstakes Schedule
Game of the Week: Denver Broncos @ Miami Dolphins
Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Indianapolis Colts @ New Orleans Saints
Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars