He's been compared to John Elway. He's been called the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck has led the Stanford Cardinal to a 11-1 record and will most likely be a Heisman candidate. He also will most likely be the top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft if he decides to go pro after just his second year as the starting QB. So who has the best chance of receiving the top pick and landing Luck? Below are the teams that have a legitimate shot. Although, maybe Luck sees who has the top pick, knows that there is a great chance of a lockout, and decides to stick around Palo Alto for one more season.
1. Carolina Panthers (1-10)
Remaining Schedule: @ Seahawks, vs. Falcons, vs. Cardinals, @ Steelers, @ Falcons
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 13 @ Seahawks - The Seahawks won their first three games at home but have been outscored 83-31 in their last two. They've lost 4 of 5 and Pete Carroll's magic seems to be wearing off.
The Panthers are definitely the most likely to land Luck. Some might wonder if they'd pick him after drafting Jimmy Clausen in the 2nd round last year. The answer to that is yes. Clausen has played in 8 games and completed just 50% of his passes while throwing 1 TD to 5 interceptions. Not that much more would be expected of a rookie QB with little talent around him but it certainly doesn't give the Panthers any reason to think about trading the pick and fostering Clausen's progress. And besides, John Fox will be gone and whatever coach comes in won't have drafted Clausen and will look to begin their reign with a talent like Luck.
Chance of Landing Luck: 35%
2. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Saints, @ Steelers, vs. Browns, vs. Chargers, @ Ravens
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 15 vs. Browns - In Week 4 the Browns took a commanding 23-10 lead late in the 4th but the Bengals rallied to make it close but lost 23-20. Terrell Owens was unstoppable, recording 10 catches for over 200 yards. If the Bengals can slow down Peyton Hillis and Owens has another great game, they could definitely pull this one out at home.
The Bengals might have the toughest schedule of the teams in contention for the top pick. The 4-7 Browns are the only sub-.500 team remaining on their schedule. But the Bengals do have a tendency to finish well, From the Associated Press: Cincinnati, though, does have a habit of starting horribly and finishing decently. Since 1991, the Bengals are 41-108 in August, September and October. The record in December and January regular-season games, however, is 38-45.
They aren't an awful team and have lost a handful of really close games but with their tough schedule they could easily lose out and be in strong contention for the top pick.
Chance of Landing Luck: 20%
3. Detroit Lions (2-9)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Bears, vs. Packers, @ Buccaneers, @ Dolphins, vs. Vikings
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 17 vs. Vikings - Imagine a not-so-far-off scenario where Brett Favre is injured, Adrian Peterson is shut down and Tarvaris Jackson is starting for the Vikings. In Detroit the Lions might just be favored.
The Lions could easily have a handful more wins. They were robbed in the first week when Calvin Johnson's touchdown was ruled incomplete after he dropped it while getting up to celebrate. They lost to the Jets in overtime after Sanchez led a game-tying drive towards the end of regulation. They've lost 5 games by 5 points or less. But they're 2-9 and Matthew Stafford has injured his shoulder twice this season. Do they have the confidence to bypass Luck if they were to land the top pick? There's a chance they would look to trade it away.
Chance of Landing Luck: 20%
4. Buffalo Bills (2-9)
Remaining Schedule: @ Vikings, vs. Browns, @ Dolphins, vs. Patriots, @ Jets
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 14 vs. Browns - This will be the last winnable game at home for the Bills this season (they've lost 14 straight to the Patriots). Peyton Hillis will have a huge game but if they can keep him under 150 they have a decent shot of winning this one.
Apparently God isn't on the Bills side. At least, that's what Stevie Johnson tweeted after he dropped what would've been the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Steelers on Sunday. It would've been the team's third win in a row but instead wound up being their fourth straight loss by 3 points. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing great and Coach Chan Gailey recently threw his support behind him. When asked if they would draft a quarterback in next year's draft he said, "There's no way I can envision that. To be honest with you, that would be kind of dumb not to think that the way the guy has played." But GM Buddy Nix recently went to Palo Alto and scouted Mr. Luck. Fitzpatrick has been great and he might keep his job next year by winning another game or two and preventing the Bills from drafting Luck.
Chance of Landing Luck: 15%
5. Arizona Cardinals (3-8)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Rams, vs. Broncos, @ Panthers, vs. Cowboys, @ 49ers
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 13 vs. Rams - There's no real reason to think the Cardinals will win this game but it is at home and the NFC West looks destined to have a 7-9 team make the playoffs.
The Cardinals actually have a shot at winning their division. I know that's insane since they just lost last night to the 49ers to fall to 3-8 but they're just 2 games back and they play both the Rams and 49ers before the end of the season. On top of that, all five of their opponents are on this list. On the other side, if they lose out they will definitely win the tiebreaker for worst strength of schedule.
Chance of Landing Luck: 5%
6. Denver Broncos (3-8)
Remaining Schedule: @ Chiefs, @ Cardinals, @ Raiders, vs. Texans, vs. Chargers
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 14 @ Cardinals - The Cardinals have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL and that's where the Broncos excel. And on the other side of the ball, the Broncos have one of the worst rushing defenses but the Cardinals have one of the worst rushing offenses.
Their odds of landing Luck go much higher if they decide to replace Kyle Orton and start Tim Tebow. They have the worst scoring defense in the league and they might actually pass on Luck to draft someone on the defensive side of the football. They have Orton who's having a great year and they drafted Tebow in the first round last year. This is the first team on this list I wouldn't be surprised to see pass on Luck.
Chance of Landing Luck: 4%
7. Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
Remaining Schedule: @ Colts, vs. Eagles, vs. Redskins, @ Cardinals, @ Eagles
Game Most Likely to Win: Week 16 @ Cardinals -
The Cowboys are playing much better under Jason Garrett and it's extremely unlikely they will get the top pick despite having one of the tougher schedules on this list. But even if they got the top pick they'd almost definitely pass on Luck since they have Tony Romo. But you never know what Jerry Jones is going to do.Chance of Landing Luck: 1%