Players and coaches rarely, if ever, have an incentive to lose. So even if fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars may want to ensure that they get the number one pick in 2014, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chad Henne won't do anything other than try to beat the Houston Texans on Sunday. Similarly, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak knows that his job on the line, and he won't have the benefit of a number one pick if he's not around after this season.
Still, the winner of Sunday's game may ultimately be the loser.
The 1-9 Jaguars have long been considered the heavy favorites to pick first in the 2014 NFL Draft but they have surprising competition in the form of the Texans. At 2-8 following eight straight losses, Houston can flip positions with Jacksonville in the standings if they lose at home on Sunday. Would that cost Jaguars fans what they truly desire in the draft: a franchise quarterback?
In the event that the Texans did pick first and the Jaguars second, it would be interesting at that point to see what Houston would do. Second-year player Case Keenum has done surprisingly well at quarterback since taking over for Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates, despite the fact that they haven't won with him yet. Holding Keenum back next year however in that scenario is that it seems almost certain a new head coach would be brought in for the Texans, and a new coach often means a new quarterback.
Not to mention the fact that most fans would still rather have Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, considered by most to be the consensus number one pick in most scenarios, than Keenum. But would the Texans rather paid South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with J.J. Watt to form perhaps the most devastating defensive line duo in the NFL?
There are still scenarios in which the Jaguars would also miss out on Bridgewater and still get a franchise quarterback. If Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota opts to declare for the draft or one of the other prospects raises his stock a bit, it seems logical that Gus Bradley (assuming he is still around) can still replace Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert with their first round pick next year.
It could just be a lot less complicated if they lose on Sunday. Not to mention the fact that the Atlanta Falcons are already 2-9, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings are 2-8. While Jacksonville has an edge over everyone else right now with only a single win, there's plenty of competition if they get one more.
As of this writing, with two minutes left in the first half, the Jaguars lead the Texans 10-0. This draft order could get a lot more interesting very soon.