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December 13, 2010 5:00 AM

Teams in Need of a Little Luck (Derby for Top Pick in NFL Draft)

Andrew Luck Lottery final copy2.jpgThe top pick is all-but assured to the Panthers. Not mathematically of course, but based on how they've been playing how could anyone assume they will win one of their last three games? Even if they get a second win they will still probably get that top pick. With John Fox on the outs, could the Panthers' brass achieve the ultimate coup and snatch up Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and his QB protege Andrew Luck?

1. Carolina Panthers (1-12)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Cardinals, @ Steelers, @ Falcons
This Week's Result: The Panthers were held to 76 passing yards losing to the Falcons, 31-10. You think they might look to draft a QB?

Game Most Likely to Win: Week 15 vs. Cardinals - John Skelton started this past week and will probably start again against the Panthers. He was very ineffective but he did manage to not throw an interception as the Cards destroyed the Broncos. The Cardinals have one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL and that is the Panthers' strength so they could possibly win their last home game of the season.

Chance of Landing Luck: 80% Last week: 40%. Even if they beat the Cardinals, they'd still likely get the top pick. If they pick up a couple wins they'd be in trouble since the Broncos have a much worse strength of schedule (the tiebreaker). But the way they're playing it's unlikely they will win again.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (2-11)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Browns, vs. Chargers, @ Ravens
This Week's Result: The Bengals defense didn't allow a touchdown to the Steelers. Unfortunately, their offense yielded two of them. Polamalu had an interception return and so did Lamarr Woodley. Steelers won easily, 23-7.

Game Most Likely to Win: Week 15 vs. Browns - Can they slow down Peyton Hillis? Will they face Jake Delhomme or Colt McCoy? If McCoy is back it probably makes it even less likely they will pull this one out.

Chance of Landing Luck: 8% Last week: 15% - Carson Palmer had no chance against the Steelers. But the Bengals could definitely beat the Browns at home. I doubt they will be favored but I'd expect the betting line to be close between these two.

3. Denver Broncos (3-10)
Remaining Schedule: @ Raiders, vs. Texans, vs. Chargers
This Week's Result: This past week against the Cardinals was by far the most winnable game for the Broncos and they got destroyed. They got killed 43-13 against a team starting a rookie QB who went 15/37 for 146 yards. So how did they lose that badly? They turned the ball over six times.

Game Most Likely to Win: Week 16 vs. Texans - The Texans are awful against the pass and during the first half of the season the Broncos aerial attack was quite impressive. If Kyle Orton can play like he did earlier in the year then they'll have a chance in this game. There's also the possibility the weather will be horrible and that could level the playing field.

Chance of Landing Luck: 6% Last week: 4%. The Broncos did not rally behind their interim coach and instead laid an egg against a bad Cardinals team. Their strength of schedule is the worst among all those in contention for the top pick and now that McDaniels is gone and a new coach and possibly GM might be coming in they would definitely consider drafting Luck while chalking up the Tebow pick to the previous regime.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-10)
Remaining Schedule: @ Dolphins, vs. Patriots, @ Jets
This Week's Result: The Bills had been giving up over 170 rushing yards per game (by far the worst in the league) but they held the Browns to 105 rushing yards and just 187 total yards. The Bills won the Battle of Lake Eerie, 13-6.

Game Most Likely to Win: Week 15 @ Dolphins - This is simply by process of elimination. They won't beat the Patriots (they never do); the Jets should be able to run all over them. That leaves the Dolphins who have been inconsistent all season long and are just 1-5 at home. The Jets also might be fighting for their playoff lives in that final home game.

Chance of Landing Luck: 4% Last week: 17%. It looks like luck ran out for the Bills. They held the Browns in check and squandered their chances at the top pick. Well, given their poor rush defense, they have a lot of holes to fill that can be addressed with whatever pick they get.


5. Detroit Lions (3-10)
Remaining Schedule: @ Buccaneers, @ Dolphins, vs. Vikings
This Week's Result: Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion in the second quarter and the Lions were able to capitalize. They held the Packers to 258 total yards and squeaked out a 7-3 win.

Game Most Likely to Win: Week 17 vs. Vikings - The Lions defense is playing decent as of late but they need Drew Stanton to play better to be able to win any of these next three games. The Vikings are the most likely team for them to beat since it's at home and that team has probably already packed it in for the season.

Chance of Landing Luck: 2%. Last week: 25%. The Lions have the talent to win any of their last three games. They also have the talent to lose each game by single digits which is the more likely outcome. More likely though, they will pull out one of these three and and have somewhere around the third to sixth pick.


6. Arizona Cardinals (4-9)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Broncos, @ Panthers, vs. Cowboys, @ 49ers
This Week's Result: a 43-13 win over the Broncos eliminates them from contention for the top pick.

There's no way the Panthers win out to allow the Cardinals to snatch that No. 1 pick. Congratulations Arizona! You're stuck with John Skelton...



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