Lose to Win: The Quest for Andrew Luck, Week 5
Four NFL teams enter this weekend’s action 0-4, and two of them will remain winless: both St. Louis and Miami have an early bye this week. The key game in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes features Kansas City at Indianapolis. The Chiefs blew a “must-lose” game last week against Minnesota and they can’t afford to win again if they are to be serious contenders for Stanford’s coveted quarterback.
In defeating Minnesota, the Chiefs played more greatly inspired defense, survived a Todd Haley-Matt Cassel imbroglio on the sideline, and received an unexpected boost from kicker Ryan Succop, who went five-for-five on FG attempts, including successful kicks from 51 and 54 yards.
Indianapolis, meanwhile, has put up solid back-to-back efforts in losses to Pittsburgh and Tampa. New quarterback Curtis Painter looked better than many of his detractors had predicted in the 24-17 Monday night loss to the Buccaneers converting two Pierre Garcon catch-and-run receptions into long touchdowns.
Prediction: The game is @ Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium and it’s hard to see the Colts winning many games in 2011 if they can’t win this one. Colts 23, KC 16.
The other winless action this weekend has Minnesota hosting Arizona. The Vikings too are due to get a “W” after consecutive near misses against the Lions and the Chiefs. With Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Donovan McNabb, Jared Allen, and a solid ensemble cast, Minnesota simply isn’t “this” bad. Prediction: McNabb will best his former Eagle teammate and current Cardinal QB, Kevin Kolb, to get in the victory column. Vikings 28, Arizona 17.
Having watched each of the “Bottom Five” – Dolphins, Rams, Colts, Chiefs, and Vikings – play during the past two weeks, I don’t think any of them are truly bad teams that are destined (barring unforeseen injuries) to get Andrew Luck. One of the current teams with a 1-3 record seems more likely to end up with the league’s worst record. This could be Denver, Jacksonville or even Carolina, despite Cam Newton’s showy passing numbers to date. The Jaguars feature their own hot-shot rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert of Missouri. Neither Carolina nor Jacksonville would likely therefore take Luck, but would trade the pick to get as much as they could from a team badly coveting a new QB. Denver has been seeking an heir apparent to John Elway ever since he walked off into the sunset in 1999 following back-to-back Super Bowl victories. The Broncos are salivating at the thought of seeing Luck in orange and blue. They might ultimately get their wish.