Words cannot describe the enormity of the Lions loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Had the Lions pulled out a win over the Cardinals, they would have been two games behind Arizona for the worst record in the NFL. Instead, the Lions pulled even and now have the inside track to finish dead last in the NFL standings.
Sunday was a huge day for the Lions aside from their important loss to the Cardinals. Miami, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay all lost leaving the Lions in a three-way tie for the worst record in the NFL with Oakland and Arizona. Since the tie-breaker for draft position is “Strength of Schedule”, the Lions are in fantastic position. They’ve done everything they’ve needed to do and then some to get the number one overall pick. Right now, the Lions’ “Strength of Schedule” (.473) is substantially lower than both the Cardinals (.500) and the Raiders (.516). The Lions are in the enviable position of not having to play four or six games against the AFC West which is a luxury that the Cardinals and Raiders don’t have.
As long as the Lions keep their focus on losing, they will have all the tiebreak advantages if a tiebreak scenario arises. The Cowboys proved yesterday with their win over the Colts that nothing is “written in stone” in the NFL. But, with a little intestinal fortitude and some untimely mental breakdowns, the Lions should easily waltz into the 2007 NFL Draft with the first overall pick. That hasn’t happened since the Lions took Billy Sims number one overall in the 1980 draft. It’s not like the Lions haven’t made good runs at the number once pick. They’ve just come up short time and time again. The Lions have had 13 top-10 draft picks since 1980 but none were the first overall.
Top Ten Overall Draft Picks since 1981 (by #)
The Lions have been just good enough to avoid getting the number one selection. I am confident that this is the year they are rewarded for their ineptness. Judging from the last 26 years, it seems as though William Clay Ford has been tirelessly trying to achieve the number one overall pick again. I think his persistence is going to finally pay off. The Lions have the luxury of playing their remaining six games against teams with a combined record of 34-26. The major obstacles are going to be at Green Bay where the Lions haven’t won since 1991 (0-15 in that timeframe), the Joey Harrington Bowl at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day, and the Artose Pinner Bowl at Ford Field on December 10. Both Miami and Minnesota are 4-6 and have shown signs of incompetence this season. Miami has been on a roll lately having beaten Chicago, Kansas City and Minnesota in its last three games. Joey Quarterback should be sufficiently motivated on Turkey Day.
The Vikings scare me a bit. They have shown a strong affinity for the “L” by losing four games in a row. If they don’t “right the ship” by December 10, the Lions could be looking at an unexpected win which could dash their hopes for the number one pick. The rest of the schedule (New England, Chicago, and Dallas) should be “gimmes.” If all of this sounds familiar, you may remember this post from last season. Unfortunately, the Lions heartbreakingly pulled out an overtime win against the New Orleans Saints which moved them from the second overall pick to the ninth overall pick. I am extremely optimistic that the Lions can accomplish their equivalent of the Super Bowl this season. The number one pick has eluded them for so many years that this is bound to be the year. I can just feel it.