The Suck for Luck sweepstakes continued on Sunday as the NFL's most pitiful teams found new ways to lose in order to improve their chances to draft Stanford star Andrew Luck. The Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins remain the frontrunners to get the top pick in April's NFL draft, but other teams appear committed to losing as many games as possible to stay in contention.
Luck, a junior at Stanford, isn't guaranteed to enter the NFL Draft this April, but that hasn't stopped most from assuming that Luck will forgo his final year of eligibly and become the No. 1 pick. Luck is a Heisman Trophy candidate and considered to be the most polished quarterback to enter the NFL in years.
So who are the leading candidates to win the Suck for Luck sweepstakes? IBTimes takes its weekly look at what teams have the best shot to win the first pick and whether they would draft Luck with the No. 1 pick.
1) Indianapolis Colts (0-8)
Another game on Sunday meant another big loss for the Indianapolis Colts. A week after getting blown out by the Saints, 62-7, the Colts managed to keep it a bit more respectable in a 27-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Colts seem destined to lose out the rest of the year based on their recent play, but the biggest question going forward is still whether the Colts would take Andrew Luck when they already have Peyton Manning.
Last week Phil Simms said there was no chance that Peyton Manning would let the Colts take Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, but it's still incredibly hard to imagine Bill Polian passing up a future star like Luck. Manning is 36 years-old and coming off three neck surgeries over the last year, including missing this entire year due to neck issues. When Manning is at the top of his game he's among the elite NFL quarterbacks, but it's uncertain whether he can get back to that level of play with his neck injuries.
Even if Manning is against taking Luck, it's still likely that the Colts wouldn't be able to pass up taking the Stanford star.
Possible wins: Jacksonville, Carolina, at Jacksonville
2) Miami Dolphins (0-7)
The Miami Dolphins found another way to disappoint fans on Sunday after blowing an early 14-3 lead in a 20-7 loss to the New York Giants. Two things are apparent going forward for the Dolphins: Tony Sparano will not be the team's coach next year and the team is unquestionably playing to win Andrew Luck.
Since Dan Marino retired in 2000, the Dolphins have gone through a who's who of mediocre quarterbacks and desperately could use a franchise quarterback like Luck could be. After an injury to Chad Henne, who has been a bit of a disappointment in Miami, the Dolphins have turned to Matt Moore to guide them in the Suck for Luck campaign for the remainder of the season.
The Dolphins have certainly emerged as a main competitor in the sweepstakes, the only issue is can they manage to keep losing with the talent that they have? The close calls indicate that the Dolphins are bound to win one or two of the games they are trying their darnedest to lose.
Possible wins: at Kansas City, Washington, Oakland, NY Jets
3) St. Louis Rams (1-6)
The Rams pulled off a major upset of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday -- perhaps inspired by the hometown Cardinals winning the World Series on Friday night. The Rams played without starter Sam Bradford, but managed to ride a heavy dose of running back Steven Jackson to the big victory. Even with the win, the Rams are still clearly in the running in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes.
Similar to the Colts, the bigger question isn't whether the Rams will keep losing games -- they will -- but more whether they would be willing to take Luck. The Rams have invested a lot of money in 2008 No. 1 pick Sam Bradford and could trade the pick to help add some additional talent around Bradford.
The Rams have been fairly pitiful this season, but one has to remember this is a team that many pegged to win the NFC West headed into the season. The Rams could use a young running back to play behind Steven Jackson and some wide receivers to surround Bradford with -- particularly some downfield threats.
It's going to be hard for anyone to pass up on taking a franchise quarterback like Luck, but the Rams might be one of the few teams that would. Plus there is enough talent on this team that the Rams should win a few games down the stretch to knock themselves out of contention for the No. 1 pick.
Possible wins: Arizona (twice), Seattle (twice), Cleveland
4) Minnesota Vikings (2-6)
The Vikings managed to win the battle of rookie quarterbacks, as Christian Ponder led the team to a 24-21 win over Cam Newton's Carolina Panthers. Ponder didn't exactly sparkle in the team's win -- he threw for 234 yards and a touchdown -- but he did enough to get the win.
Sunday's victory over the Panthers showed why it's doubtful that the Vikings will be in contention for Luck at the end of the year. Adrian Peterson is simply too good to allow for the Vikings to continue to lose so many games.
The Vikings took Ponder in the first round of this past April's draft -- indicating a fairly big investment in the former Florida State quarterback -- but would that stop them from taking Luck? It's hard to imagine that the Vikings would pass up Luck given how unproven Ponder is, but it would be a tough decision for the organization to make.
I think if given the opportunity the Vikings would take Luck, but the Vikings might be too good for their own good when it comes to Suck for Luck.
Possible wins: Denver, at Washington
5) Arizona Cardinals (1-6)
The Cardinals invested a long-term, expensive contract in Kevin Kolb after acquiring him from the Philadelphia Eagles this off-season, but the move hasn't paid off like Cardinals' management hoped.
Kolb wasn't horrible against the Ravens on Sunday, but needed to do more to prevent the Ravens' unlikely comeback victory. The Cardinals got off to a quick 24-3 lead over the Ravens, but let a Ray Rice-led Ravens team comeback for a 30-27 win.
Kolb was 10 for 21 for 153 yards, one touchdown, and an interception in the loss, which isn't exactly what the Cardinals were hoping for with their big investment. . The Cardinals have been desperate for a quality quarterback since Kurt Warner retired and wouldn't think twice about taking Luck, if they thought he was the best chance to get the Cardinals back to the Super Bowl while Fitzgerald is still in his prime.
The only thing likely keeping the Cardinals back -- similar to the Rams -- is how weak the NFC West is this season. One has to imagine that the Cardinals will manage another win or two against the Rams and/or Seahawks, which would likely knock them off the race.
But right now if Kolb continues to disappoint and the Cardinals continue to lose, the Cardinals could definitely be a contender for Luck.
Possible wins: St. Louis (twice), Cleveland, at Cincinnati, Seattle
Other possible options:
Carolina Panthers (2-6)
The Panthers likely knocked themselves out of the running with the victory against the Redskins, though they likely wouldn't have taken Luck with Cam Newton already at the helm.
Denver Broncos (2-5)
Another clunker or two like Tim Tebow had on Sunday could put the Broncos into the Top 5 for the Suck for Luck sweepstakes.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
Coach Jack Del Rio has given rookie Blaine Gabbert the keys to the offense.