The Lions continued their strong march to a top five draft pick with a much-needed unimpressive performance against the Vikings. With the Lions doing their part, the rest of the league also chipped in to improve the Lions draft position. Wins by Arizona, Baltimore, and Miami brought the Lions into a six-way tie for the sixth worst record in the NFL. Unfortunately, the Lions have beaten three of the five teams that they’re tied with at 4-8 which means they will be the odd team out if the standings don’t change. That makes losing out that much more important. Next week is probably the biggest game of the season for the Lions. If they can muster up enough incompetence to lose to Green Bay, the rest of the schedules sets up nicely for a losing streak. If the Lions can drop next week’s game in Lambeau Field, that will set up a colossal battle between the Lions and New Orleans Saints on Christmas Eve to see who will get the first shot at Vince Young.
1). Houston 1-11
The Texans are a sure bet to finish with a higher draft pick than the Lions. However, the Texans are actually an ally for the Lions from here on out. First, the Texans surely won’t draft Matt Leinart or Vince Young since David Carr is still their franchise quarterback. Second, the Texans are going to play a big part in determining how good of a pick the Lions get. Houston already did the Lions a huge favor by losing to Baltimore this week. They can continue being an ally by losing their next two games to Tennessee and Arizona. Since Houston has a pretty good lock on the first pick, Lions fans need to root for the Texans to lose those two games. The Lions could make a big jump into the top five if Houston can get the job done.
2). NY Jets 2-10
The Jets are also an ally to the Lions. Much like the Texans, the Jets likely won’t invest a top five pick in a quarterback with Chad Pennington as their number one quarterback. Also, the Jets play Oakland, Miami and Buffalo who are all tied with the Lions at 4-7. The ideal situation for the Lions would be for the Jets to drop all three of those games.
3). San Francisco 2-10
San Francisco probably won’t play much of a factor in determining the Lions draft pick. They’re two full games behind the Lions and I doubt SF will even get two more victories the rest of the season. The Niners did the Lions a great service by losing to Arizona this week. San Francisco doesn’t play any teams that are battling for a top pick the rest of the season. They’re pretty much in the clubhouse with a guaranteed top three pick.
4). Green Bay 2-10
The Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers last year which will probably preclude them from taking a quarterback with their first round pick. Despite that, I’m still confident that the Packers can finish ahead of the Lions in the standings. They should beat the Lions in Lambeau field. I also think the Packers could beat the Bears at home and they get to play the Ravens. I suppose it doesn’t matter if Green Bay finishes with a better pick than Detroit but it would be nice for the Lions to finish as high up the board as possible. Also, the Packers can help the Lions tremendously by beating Detroit this week.
5). New Orleans 3-9
The Lions will play their biggest game of the season on Saturday, December 24. This game will be for all the marbles. If the Lions can pull out the loss against the Saints, they should finish with a top five pick in the draft and be in excellent position to draft Leinart or Young. New Orleans will likely lose the rest of its games so this game is really the only chance that the Lions have of pulling even with New Orleans. Aaron Brooks certainly will not keep the Saints from taking a quarterback. If the Saints can somehow get inspired as they usually do at the end of a lost season, they might be able to pull of an upset against Carolina, Atlanta, or Tampa Bay but that’s incredibly unlikely.
6). Tennessee 3-9
Tennessee is an interesting team when it comes to forecasting their needs come draft time. They have Steve McNair and Billy Volek and they also have Chris Brown and Travis Henry. It seems like drafting Leinart, Young, or Bush would create a logjam at running back or quarterback. The Titans still play Houston and Miami. Hopefully they can win both but the Titans are a rare team on this list that the Lions don’t hold the tiebreaker over. It would be nice to see the Titans win two more games but one could be enough to force a tie.
7) Cleveland 4-8
For about two hours, I thought Cleveland would pull of the upset over Jacksonville. That would’ve been a huge lift for the Lions since Detroit holds the tiebreaker over Cleveland. Not only did Cleveland blow their lead, but they also lost Braylon Edwards for an extended period of time. Cleveland still has two possible wins against Baltimore and Oakland. The idea situation would be for Cleveland to beat Oakland and lost to Baltimore.
8). Baltimore 4-8
Baltimore is Detroit’s worst nightmare. Not only do the Ravens own the head to head tiebreaker over Detroit, they also need a new quarterback just as bad as the Lions. The Ravens would love to take Matt Leinart. The Ravens didn’t help themselves by pulling off a last second win against the Texans this week. That victory could go a long way in pushing Detroit into the top five. With games against Green Bay and Cleveland, the Ravens might just have enough left in the tank to beat out the Lions in the standings.
9). Arizona 4-8
If Houston can make like San Francisco and lay down for the Cardinals, the Lions could be in the clear. The Cardinals have been playing well as of late and should be able to beat Houston. That would put the Cardinals at 5-11 which could be enough to beat out Detroit in the standings.
10). Oakland 4-8
J-E-T-S!!!! The Jets get to do their part in bringing a quarterback to Detroit via the 2006 draft. The Raiders should easily beat the Jets and possibly beat Cleveland. That would give Oakland a minimum of a 5-11 record. The Raiders are also good enough to upset a better team so the Lions should be in the clear in terms of the Raiders.
11) Buffalo 4-8
J-E-T-S!!!! I have faith that the Bills will beat the Jets on the last day of the season. They should also beat Miami at home next week. The Bills should easily beat the Lions in the standings.
12). Detroit 4-8
Like I mentioned above, the New Orleans game is going to be huge. It really could be the most important Lions game of the last five years. A win over New Orleans would put the Lions in an ugly situation with a plethora of other teams. A loss to the Saints could really separate the Lions from the pack and firmly entrench them into the top five. In the back of my mind, I know the Lions will do something ridiculous like beat Pittsburgh on the last game of the season or win at Lambeau Field.
Even if the Lions can’t finish high enough to draft Leinart or Young, there are still a few extremely talented players that would immediately help the Lions. Most of these players won’t be available outside of the top seven so it’s imperative for the Lions to win no more than one of their remaining games. Here is the list of players the Lions would be looking at if they can sneak into the top five.
1). Matt Leinart QB USC
NFL Equivalent: Carson Palmer
2). Vince Young QB Texas
NFL Equivalent: Michael Vick
3). D’Brickashaw Ferguson OT Virginia
NFL Equivalent: Johnathan Ogden
4). A.J. Hawk LB Ohio St.
NFL Equivalent: Brian Urlacher
5). Reggie Bush RB USC
NFL Equivalent: nobody
6). Mathias Kiwanuka DE Boston College
NFL Equivalent: Simeon Rice
7). JimmyWilliams DB Virginia Tech
NFL Equivalent: Shawn Springs
After each week, I’ll take a look at where the Lions are in the standings and how things are looking for a top five pick. With only four weeks to go, the Lions control their own destiny. The Lions would be pretty much guaranteed a top five pick if they can lose out. Just one win could send the Lions out of the top ten. Keep your fingers crossed.