The Indianapolis Colts rarely go for a loss, but if they are smart, they will lay down in the season finale against Jacksonville. With Andrew Luck sitting there as the No. 1 overall pick and a great prize for the future of the franchise, Indianapolis would be crazy to not go for him.
In order to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft they need a loss in the final game of the year against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts unexpected two game winning streak has now put them in a tie with the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings for the worst record in the NFL. The tiebreaker is strength of schedule. In the Colts’ case, the lower the strength of schedule, the better.
The Colts still have the lowest strength of schedule among the three teams. Indianapolis’ strength of schedule is .547, while Minnesota’s is .566 and St. Louis’ is .587. An Indianapolis loss tot he Jaguars would be enough to secure the No. 1 overall pick, and likely Andrew Luck. With Jim Irsay’s reiteration that Peyton Manning would play in Indianapolis if healthy next year it is not known what the Colts would do with Luck if they get him.
If the Colts slip behind Minnesota at No. 2 the Vikings would then be in a difficult spot. Minnesota picked Christian Ponder in last season’s draft it he first round, so they are already invested in a quarterback. If Luck goes to Minnesota it is possible the Vikings could trade his rights to another team for more picks so they can build around Ponder.
The other team in the derby for the No. 1 pick is the St Louis Rams, who also have a recent first round selection at quarterback they have invested in. Sam Bradford was a recent No. 1 overall pick, making it likely that St. Louis would trade the No. 1 pick elsewhere to get more picks as well.
The smart thing for Indianapolis to do would be to lose to Jacksonville, especially since laying down wouldn’t happen in front of their home fans. The Jacksonville game is away from home and the Colts normally struggle to win there anyway. A loss would not be shocking, especially after the Colts lost 13 straight to begin the season. Even if Peyton Manning does return, drafting Luck would be a strong move for the future because he wouldn’t be expected to produce immediately. He could be groomed as Manning’s replacement, making the franchise secure for the next 15 years.