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RandBall: The Vikings and the race to the bottom in the NFL

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • November 13, 2013 - 1:02 PM

In very Vikings fashion, the purple finally won a game last week ... right when a lot of fans wanted them to keep losing. As we've noted many times in the past, we do not like tanking when it comes to trying to secure draft position. But 2013 has the potential to be eerily similar to 2011 when it comes the draft and the race to the bottom in the NFL. Here is a look at how that race breaks down as of now:

The Bills, Steelers, Raiders, Giants and Redskins all have three wins, but for now we're going to focus on the five teams below them:

The Vikings, Falcons and Texans are 2-7.

The Jaguars and Bucs are 1-8.

And yes, that means the Jaguars and Bucs -- previously winless -- both won last week, and the Vikings would have been tied at the bottom if not for the win over Washington (remind you at all of 2011?).

Some interesting notes about those five teams:

The Texans and Jaguars play each other twice in the final seven games, so somebody is going to pick up wins (unless, of course, they tie ... but even then, they're gaining on the field). Both teams also have fairly winnable games outside of those head-to-head matchups. The Jaguars play the Cardinals, Browns, Bills and Titans before finishing with a tough one against the Colts. The Texans, who have lost four games by three or fewer points and were a playoff team last season, still get the Raiders and Titans in addition to the two against the Jaguars.

The Bucs and Falcons, meanwhile, play each other this week -- so again, one of those teams will almost certainly pick up a win (and move further away in the race to the bottom). The Bucs also play the Rams and Bills; otherwise, their schedule is very tough. The Falcons, like the Texans and Vikings a playoff team a year ago, have Buffalo and Washington left but otherwise face a tough slate.

The Vikings, of course, are at Seattle this weekend. The final six are: at Green Bay, home against Chicago, at Baltimore, home against Philly, at Cincy and home against Detroit. The Vikings will lose at Seattle. We could honestly imagine the Vikings having a chance in most of those final six games, especially if Aaron Rodgers misses the game in Green Bay. That said, we could easily see the Vikings losing all six.

Let's say they win twice more this season and finish 4-12. Where would that leave them? Well, our best guess is that the Texans will win at least four, and probably more. The Jaguars honestly could, too, based on their schedule -- but we wouldn't bet on it. If the Falcons beat Tampa Bay this week, we imagine they will reach four or more. If Tampa Bay wins, all bets are off.

Bottom line: It's not out of the question for the Vikings to wind up last in the NFL and get the No. 1 pick. But we'll say as of now their toughest competition is Tampa Bay, not Jacksonville. And we wouldn't be at all surprised to see them wind up third or fourth, just like 2011.

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