Andrew Luck Sweepstakes: Indianapolis Colts Moving Closer To No. 1 Pick

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal drops back to pass against the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

After ten weeks of the 2011 NFL season, the Indianapolis Colts have taken a commanding lead for the number one overall pick. They face numerous questions between now and the April 2012 NFL Draft.

Although the 2011 NFL season has seven more weeks of games, the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes are quickly wrapping up as the Indianapolis Colts secure their advantage with an 0-10 record. The Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams were the last legitimate competitors for the spot, but both managed to win in week 10.

Although the Rams, Dolphins and Panthers are only two games ahead of the Colts, most would likely agree that the Colts have shown they are in this thing for the long haul. Indy has some potentially winnable games remaining, but they lost arguably their most winnable game this past week when they hosted the 2-6 Jacksonville Jaguars, losing 17-3.

As the Colts continue their running towards what is becoming a strong shot at 0-16, the biggest point of debate now is what will happen with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. He is an institution in Indianapolis and prior to this season, it would have been unthinkable to consider this as his last season with the Colts. And yet, the scenario of Peyton Manning playing elsewhere or retiring after this season is a very real possibility.

Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian discussed what could lie ahead and he indicated that he had discussed Andrew Luck with Peyton Manning and received Manning's blessing to select his successor. What we don't know is what that means for Manning's future with the Colts.

As Brad Wells pointed out over at SB Nation's Stampede Blue, Manning's contract with the Colts provides what is essentially an opt-out clause for the team. Manning described his new deal last summer as a one-year contract with a four year extension. That provides the Colts with a very easy opportunity to clear the decks and begin their re-building process.

Of course, Bill Polian has suggested that Peyton Manning will be back in 2012. This would set up a possible Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers scenario with Andrew Luck put in a position to learn from the veteran QB. Although Luck would be the number one overall pick, the change in the rookie salary structure makes him a veritable bargain for the Colts. They could reasonably afford to sit him for a year or two if Peyton Manning was brought back and take their time developing Luck.

This is just one of many decisions facing the Indianapolis Colts this offseason. They will likely get a host of intriguing trade offers for the number one pick. The Colts do need a long-term answer at quarterback, but if you are Jim Irsay and the football operations department, what kind of Godfather offer is enough to give up the number one overall pick? Even with the struggles against Oregon, Andrew Luck remains the consensus number one and one of the best QB prospects arguably since Peyton Manning. If you get a Mike Ditka-style Ricky Williams offer, do you really turn it down with all the holes on the roster?

Projected 2012 NFL Draft Top Five Picks

1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. St. Louis Rams
5. Cleveland Browns

Week 11 Andrew Luck Sweepstakes Schedule

The favored Indianapolis Colts finally reach their bye after what could be described as both a disastrous and perfect first ten games. It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, they make after the bye. Could we see a disastrous run of success? Doubtful, but who knows what the bye will bring.

All of the two win teams will be in action on Sunday. Although they are a long ways from catching the Colts for that number one pick, anything is possible as we head into the final two months of the season.

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams
Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions

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