So, the past couple of days have largely been spent debating the merits of taking Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Of course, the right to select Luck would be contingent on the Vikings getting that pick, which is currently held by the 1-13 Indianapolis Colts.
Well, one of the sports guys from an Indianapolis radio station has run the numbers a bit more extensively than I have, and it appears that the only way the Colts are going to fall out of the number one spot in the draft is if they win both of their final two games. The Colts play tomorrow night against Houston, and finish the season with a trip to Jacksonville. Derek Schultz has played out what is the "worst case" for Indianapolis and the "best case" for both Minnesota and St. Louis, and finds that if all three teams were to finish 2-14, it looks like the Colts would stay at #1, while the Vikings would pick second and St. Louis would end up in third.
(Hat tip to our friends at Stampede Blue for that link.)
It could end up getting even less complicated if the Colts should lose to the Texans tomorrow night, according to NFL.com. If Indy ends up losing tomorrow night, it would push the Rams out of the running for the top selection, leaving the race down to the Colts and the Vikings. And even then, it's going to be a pretty tall order for the Vikings to end up with the top selection.
If the Colts lose to the Texans, the best their strength of schedule could be at the end of the season is .5469.
If the Vikings lose their final two games, the worst their strength of schedule could be also is .5469.
The Rams' strength of schedule could be at worst .5586, so they cannot land the No. 1 pick if the Colts lose a 14th game because Indy's best strength of schedule would be lower than the worst possible for St. Louis.
The only other tiebreakers for draft order apply to teams in the same division or conference, which the Colts and Vikings are not. What this means is if any of the Colts' unique opponents (teams who didn't also play the Vikings) lose or any of the Vikings' unique opponents win, then Indy will lock up the No. 1 pick. It will just take one loss by a Colts unique opponents or one win by a Vikings unique opponent.
And if all those things were to fall into place, even then we'd still be looking at a coin flip with the Colts for the #1 overall pick.
Seriously, what the hell chance do you suppose this franchise would have in a coin flip situation?
I guess what I'm trying to say is that nobody should get too attached to the idea of picking first overall in the draft, unless the Colts can go on a mini-run at the end of the year here.