We already know that the Minnesota Vikings can no longer get the top overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. They took that possibility off of the table with their victory over the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon. However, depending on what happens on New Year's Day, the Vikings could have a bit of a swing in where they do actually select.
Right now, there are six teams in the National Football League that have four wins or fewer. Those teams are the Indianapolis Colts (two wins), St. Louis Rams (two wins), the Vikings (three wins), Cleveland Browns (four wins), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (four wins), and Jacksonville Jaguars (four wins). Those are the teams that the Vikings are jockeying for draft position with.
Obviously, if the Vikings lose on Sunday to the Chicago Bears, they can select no worse than third. If the Rams win and the Vikings lose, then it would appear that the Vikings would leapfrog the Rams based on strength of schedule and wind up with the second spot. However, the Rams are going to be facing a San Francisco 49ers team that is still fighting for the second overall seed in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye, so that's a pretty tall order. With all due respect to our friends at Turf Show Times, I wouldn't anticipate a St. Louis victory on Sunday.
With a Vikings' win, they'll be battling with the Browns, Buccaneers, and Jaguars. According to our friends at the Great Blue North Draft Report, those three teams all currently have a lower strength of schedule than the Vikings do. That means that, as things stand now, a Vikings' victory over the Bears on Sunday afternoon could drop the Vikings all the way down to the #6 overall pick in the draft.
Taking a look at those three teams, the Buccaneers are pretty much a dead team walking, as Coach Raheem Morris is probably coaching his last game when Tampa travels to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to take on the Atlanta Falcons. Jacksonville is going to be hosting the Colts, but they've been so atrocious lately that the Colts might even be favored in that one. The Browns finish the season by hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that is still battling for a first-round bye in the AFC.
Looking at those three games, the only one of those three teams I would even remotely expect a victory from would be Jacksonville. And, as I've said, they've been awful lately.
One other thing to keep in mind is that head-to-head match-ups, apparently, do not have any role in breaking ties between teams when it comes to the draft order. So, Tampa Bay's Week 2 victory over the Vikings doesn't mean anything. . .if both the Vikings and the Buccaneers end up 4-12 and Tampa has the lower strength of schedule, then they'll get a higher selection than the Vikings do.
So, to recap, if the Vikings lose to Chicago, they're guaranteed no worse than the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft (and no better than the second overall pick, because the Colts beat them in any strength of schedule tiebreaker). If the Vikings beat the Bears to end the season, they can still draft third, but don't be surprised if they drop as far as sixth.
Man, if some of you are pissed off that the Vikings missed out on #1 overall, you're going to be downright homicidal if they drop out of the top five.