Updated Suck for Luck Contenders
No team would ever admit to doing it. And although that's likely because no team ever would do it, the Suck for Luck talk won't end any time soon.
More than one bottom-feeder flirted with victory and distance from next April's top slot, but in the end, it's the same old faces fighting it out for the right to draft Stanford's Andrew Luck.
Indianapolis Colts (0-8)
The Colts have consistently found new ways to lose each week, and with Peyton Manning's potential to play this season shrinking with every loss, it looks like we'll get to see at least one full season of Curtis Painter in this lifetime.
Indy was no match for the Tennessee Titans in Week 8, and after spending a few weeks of the season keeping it close with better teams, the Colts now seem to have settled in and accepted their fate as one of the NFL's worst.
With Manning set to return next season, there's a chance the Colts could be one of the few teams actually in position to trade out of the top spot, but it might be too tempting to add Luck and set the franchise on auto-pilot for another 10-15 years.
Miami Dolphins (0-7)
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Dolphins had a chance to beat a better team. They even had the lead.
Unfortunately, this isn't an unfamiliar story for 'Fins fans. Miami stepped aside and allowed the New York Giants to cap a comeback with a 10 unanswered points in the final frame.
Unlike the Colts, who might have to let Luck sit for a few seasons, the Dolphins are desperate for a headliner under center now.
Matt Moore has shown flashes and Reggie Bush looked like an actual NFL running back against New York, so there's a chance that this team could stumble and pick up a win or two.
Still, the AFC East is as strong as it's been in years and their schedule offers no help elsewhere, with trips to Kansas City and Dallas and home dates against Oakland and Philadelphia still on the horizon.
St. Louis Rams (1-6)
The Rams were spiraling towards a tough decision after the first seven weeks of the NFL season, staring up at an 0-6 record and a potential shuffling of the coaching staff.
With second-year savant and 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford still under contract and full of potential, a shot at Andrew Luck could have led to an awkward situation. One win doesn't completely change their 2011 outlook, but it does help.
Especially when it's a 31-21 whooping of the New Orleans Saints with A.J. Feely under center and a rag-tag group of wide receivers headlined by a guy in only his second week with the team.
The Rams, with a severely simple divisional slate ahead (outside of San Francisco), are likely to play their way out of the Luck sweepstakes, which is exactly where they belong. Giving up on Sam Bradford this early wouldn't make much sense.
Arizona Cardinals (1-6)
The Cardinals, with their shiny, new, high-priced quarterback, are going to feel a little queasy if they find themselves staring down the draft barrel at Andrew Luck next April.
This offseason, Arizona signed Kevin Kolb to a six-year, $65 million contract.
$21.5 million of that is guaranteed. The pending nausea over possibly having a shot at Luck after dropping all that dough on a guy who's only won one game was not.
With Larry Fitzgerald under contract through 2018, a rookie quarterback would immediately have a Pro-Bowl best friend, but it won't matter who takes the snaps in Arizona without more protection up front.
Still, if the Cardinals somehow fall all the way to first in the 2012 NFL Draft, it's more likely that they'll take Luck than trade the chance to pay him.
Denver Broncos 2-5
Broncos fell 45-10 to the Detroit Lions, and the one guy being given a chance to deter Denver's budding romance with Luck had a less-than-stellar game.
Tim Tebow waited 55 minutes into his first 2011 start before showing the Broncos that he can start in this league, but his late success last week has not yet carried over.
He'll get the rest of this season to prove that the Broncos have bigger needs than a new quarterback, but with ex-Stanford Cardinal passer John Elway running the show, he'll need to be pretty damn convincing.
Denver will get a few more chances for wins in a weak AFC West, but if there's any team that might be Cardinal-crazed enough to actually suck for Luck, it's Elways bunch.