With Week 9 set to wrap up tonight, we’ve got a pretty good idea of who’s fighting foe the playoffs, versus who’s fighting for jobs, both on the sidelines and on the field.
But who’s leading the pack for the 1st overall pick?
There are currently 10 teams that would seem to have at least a shot at ending up first overall, although the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears already all have 3 wins (versus 5 losses), meaning their shot is slim compared to the rest of this list–although they all are starting at possible top 10 picks, which still isn’t a great spot to be in.
The Indianapolis Colts also have just three wins, but are already at 6 losses with their bye still coming up in a couple of weeks, so they’re a bit higher in the running–they also have a tough schedule remaining, with only one game that I’ve got them pegged to win right now (Week 15 at Baltimore) and a winnable game in Houston against the Texans, now that DeShaun Watson is out, but could just as easily end up 3-13.
But the four teams with the worst current records also have formidable (for them) schedules, which gives them the upper hand:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Current Record: 2-6; Projected Record: 3-13)
The Bucs got thrashed by the Saints yesterday, and may lose Mike Evans for an extra game thanks to his fight, and Jameis Winston for even longer with a shoulder injury. Expectations were a lot higher for this team, but of the three remaining games that appear to be winnable (Week 10 against the Jets, Week 11 against the Dolphins, and Week 13 in Green Bay), with Winston hurt, I currently only have them pegged to win one–the Green Bay game, which could itself be a long shot on the road.
New York Giants (Current Record: 1-7; Projected Record: 3-13)
Another team that had high expectations coming into the season, but never came together and lost several key players to injuries. Even getting to three wins might be extremely difficult, as I have them beating the Cowboys in New York (Week 14), as Ezekiel Elliott might finally be sitting out for his suspension, and Week 16 against the Cardinals, who theoretically might have David Johnson back. They also face the 49ers in Week 10, which is a winnable game–but in San Francisco, I’m actually giving the edge to the 49ers again. More on that below.
Cleveland Browns (Current Record: 0-9; Projected Record: 3-13)
Of the terrible teams, the Browns might actually have the “easiest” remaining schedule–they have three games that I’ve pegged them to win, including Week 12 in Cincinnati (where the Bengals have to be close to quitting on Marvin Lewis…again), Week 14 against Green Bay (assuming Aaron Rodgers isn’t back), and Week 16 at Chicago (where John Fox may find himself on yet another hot seat). They also have the beatable Ravens in Week 15, and a Pittsburgh Steelers team in Week 17 that may have the division and first round bye locked up. Still, it’s the Browns, so my 3-13 might be optimistic.
San Francisco 49ers (Current Record: 0-9; Projected Record: 2-14)
When I started to look at this last week (as a part of the Who Wins First article from last week), I had the 49ers pegged for beating the Cardinals yesterday. That obviously didn’t happen. As mentioned above, I am still giving them the benefit of the doubt in hosting the Giants this week, but after that…there’s not much there, even if they get Jimmy Garoppolo up and running. They face a tough Seattle team out of the bye, then have the last game that I currently have them pegged to win when they go to Chicago. They travel to Houston the next week – again, if Garoppolo is playing, they might have a shot – but if not…ending the season with losses to Tennessee, Jacksonville and the LA Rams almost seems inevitable.
Of course, what will each team do with the first overall pick if they have it is the next big question….would the Browns finally take a “Franchise” QB, or would they once again slide back for draft capital, especially with the rumors that some of the top QBs don’t want to go there. Would the 49ers resign Garoppolo and look to help another position? Would the Giants consider pulling a Peyton by drafting Eli Manning’s replacement? Would the Buccaneers consider taking another QB at the #1 overall spot, given the lack of progression from Jameis Winston?
Those are the questions that have already started swirling for these four teams that are facing a final 8 games with little else to look forward to…