What Helps The Vikings' Potential Draft Position?

The Minnesota Vikings selected defensive end/linebacker Chris Doleman with the fourth overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, following a 1984 season where they went 3-13. In the 26 drafts that have followed, the Vikings have never selected higher than #7 overall.

That will change this season, unfortunately. The Vikings can not get more than four wins for the season, and after yesterday's results, 26 NFL teams have at least five wins, which means the Vikings' selection will be in the top six of the 2012 NFL Draft. One more loss will clinch a top three selection for the Vikings, which seems like a given at this point, as sad as that is.

In addition, with the Indianapolis Colts getting their first win of the season on Sunday and moving to 1-13 on the year, the top overall pick is back in play again. That would be another bit of dubious history for the Vikings, as they have never actually earned the top overall pick because of their play on the field. Yes, the Vikings have had the first overall pick in the draft twice in their history. . .however, the first time was in 1961 as an expansion team before they had ever taken the field, and the second time was in 1968 with a pick they acquired from the New York Giants as part of the Fran Tarkenton trade.

Now, as we've discussed, any ties in the draft order are broken by strength of schedule, with the team with the weaker strength of schedule being given the higher pick. So, to put it simply, in order to get the highest pick possible it would be beneficial if the teams that have appeared on their schedule this season to lose (making the Vikings' strength of schedule lower) and teams that appear on the schedules of both the Colts and the St. Louis Rams to win, thereby making their strength of schedule higher.

As far as strength of schedule, a lot of people have asked about it thus far, so I've broken down the final two weeks of NFL match-ups. Bear in mind, I'm not advocating cheering for the Vikings to lose, and I'm sure as hell not cheering for the Vikings to lose. However, if we want the Vikings to win any potential tiebreakers with other teams at the top of the draft, after the jump will follow the results we would be looking for and why.

Basically, the teams that we would want to win each week, in those games where rooting preference would matter, are in bold, with the explanations after them. We'll start with Week 16.

Houston at Indianapolis - Obviously, we would want Indianapolis to win at least one more. . .and, ideally, two more
Pittsburgh at St. Louis - Obviously, we would want St. Louis to win at least one more

Miami at New England - A New England win would make Indy's strength of schedule higher
New York Giants at New York Jets - A Giants win would make St. Louis' strength of schedule higher
Jacksonville at Tennessee - No real effect (Indy has played both these teams twice, which would put two wins and two losses on their strength of schedule. . .basically a push)
Tampa Bay at Carolina - A Tampa Bay win would make Indy's strength of schedule higher (Minnesota has played both these teams, so no real effect)
Denver at Buffalo - A Denver loss would make Minnesota's strength of schedule weaker
Arizona at Cincinnati - A Cincy win would make Indy's strength of schedule higher and Minnesota's weaker (thanks to the Arizona loss)
Cleveland at Baltimore - Both St. Louis and Indy have played both of these teams, so no real effect
Oakland at Kansas City - A Kansas City win would make Indy's strength of schedule stronger (Minnesota has played both these teams. . .no real effect)
San Diego at Detroit - A San Diego win would help Minnesota, despite them having played both of these teams (two losses thanks to playing Detroit twice)
Philadelphia at Dallas - St. Louis has played both of these teams. . .no real effect
San Francisco at Seattle - St. Louis has played both of these teams twice. . .no real effect
Chicago at Green Bay - A Green Bay win would make St. Louis' strength of schedule higher
New Orleans at Atlanta - A New Orleans win would make St. Louis' strength of schedule higher (both Indy and Minnesota have played both of these teams. . .no real effect)

Week 17 is a bit different, because all the games are divisional match-ups, so not all of the games would matter. Here's what I can see.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville - Obviously, we would want Indy to win
San Francisco at St. Louis - Obviously, we would want St. Louis to win

Washington at Philadelphia - St. Louis has played both of these teams twice. . .no real effect
Pittsburgh at Cleveland - Both Indy and St. Louis have played both of these teams. . .no real effect
Baltimore at Cincinnati - A Baltimore win would make St. Louis' strength of schedule higher (Indy has played both of these teams. . .no real effect)
New York Jets at Miami - No effect on anyone
Carolina at New Orleans - A New Orleans win would make St. Louis' strength of schedule higher (Indy and Minnesota have both played both of these teams. . .no real effect)
Tampa Bay at Atlanta - Minnesota and Indy have both played both of these teams. . .no real effect
Buffalo at New England - A New England victory would make Indy's strength of schedule higher
Tennessee at Houston - Indy has played both of these teams twice. . .no real effect
Dallas at New York Giants - St. Louis has played both of these teams. . .no real effect
Kansas City at Denver - A Kansas City win would make Indy's strength of schedule higher (Minnesota has played both of these teams. . .no real effect)
San Diego at Oakland - Minnesota has played both of these teams. . .no real effect
Seattle at Arizona - A Seattle win would make Minnesota's strength of schedule weaker (St. Louis has played both of these teams twice. . .no real effect)
Detroit at Green Bay - A Green Bay win would make St. Louis' strength of schedule stronger (Minnesota has played both of these teams twice. . .no real effect)

(I didn't bother highlighting the two instances where cheering for Green Bay would be beneficial because. . .well, come on, none of us are cheering for Green Bay, regardless.)

Reader's Digest version. . .here's what we would be looking for in games that really matter

Week 16

Colts over Texans
Rams over Steelers
Patriots over Dolphins
Giants over Jets
Buccaneers over Panthers
Bills over Broncos
Bengals over Cardinals
Chiefs over Raiders
Chargers over Lions
Saints over Falcons

Week 17

Colts over Jaguars
Rams over Niners
Ravens over Bengals
Saints over Panthers
Patriots over Bills
Chiefs over Broncos
Seahawks over Cardinals

So, there you have it. . .if Minnesota does somehow manage to go 2-14 this year, that's sort of how we would want things to fall in order for the Vikings to get the highest possible draft pick. I'm pretty sure I got all of those right, anyway. That's a lot of prognosticating, in any event.

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