With the Indianapolis Colts' improbable 19-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Thursday night, three teams are now tied with two victories on the season. The Colts (2-13) have been the favorite to end up with the first overall pick this season, starting out with 13 consecutive losses.
None of the three teams play each other this season, so the tie-breaker will come down to strength of schedule. Since we're trying to find the worst team in the league, the "winner" is the team with the easiest schedule.
The current strength of schedule for the full season, including teams that will be played in Week 16 and 17:
Indianapolis: 120-106 (.531)
Minnesota: 127-97 (.567)
St. Louis: 132-92 (.589)
So right now, the Colts still have the inside track to get the No. 1 overall pick as long as they lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars next weekend. Looking at the numbers, it's fair to say that St. Louis doesn't stand a chance if all end up with two wins. But how about Minnesota?
For Minnesota to get the No. 1 overall pick, they're going to need these two things to happen:
- Lose this weekend to the Washington Redskins and in Week 17 to the struggling Chicago Bears.
- Have the teams that only the Vikings face lose nine more games over the next two weeks than the unique teams that Indianapolis has played. Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit, Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Arizona and Washington need to lose nine more games than Houston, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England and Cleveland.
The odds of the second part happening are zero.
The most losses that could benefit the Vikings in Week 16 is five. Minnesota needs to lose to Washington, Green Bay plays Chicago, Detroit plays San Diego and then Oakland, Denver and Arizona all can lose to Minnesota's benefit.
The best record of unique teams in these games for Minnesota would be 3-5, as three of the teams they want to lose are guaranteed to win. (Minnesota loss to Washington, splits between Chicago/Green Bay and Detroit/SD.)
In Week 17, Minnesota can gain five losses. Minnesota needs to lose to Chicago, Green Bay plays Detroit, San Diego plays Oakland and then Denver, Arizona and Washington can lose to Minnesota's benefit.
The best record of these games for Minnesota would be 3-5 as well, so the best record of these teams in the last two weeks for the Vikings would be 6-10.
The Colts only need two losses out of their unique teams in order to hold onto the No. 1 seed, and with two games with two of their unique teams in it this week, there are two guaranteed losses in the schedule.
To put it simply: Colts lose next week, they get No. 1. If the Colts win and Minnesota and St. Louis are 2-14, Minnesota gets No. 1. St. Louis can only get it by having Indianapolis and Minnesota winning one more game this season.
So, take heart Colts fans dreaming of Andrew Luck, all you need to do is lose next weekend and you'll have your chance.