Andrew Luck Sweepstakes: Miami and Indianapolis are Neck and Neck, with St. Louis* Still in the Mix

We’ve been looking at the Andrew Luck sweepstakes since last November, when it was clear that the Stanford QB was going to be a franchise player in the NFL. Luck passed on the draft in 2011, but when he comes out next April, he’ll certainly go first. This was my guess in May; I even wrote a post about it in the preseason. Who has the best shot of getting him? Through seven weeks – 9 to go! – here’s a breakdown of the contenders:

Indianapolis Colts (0-6)Takeaway from the 62-7 drubbing: it’s clear this team has thrown in the towel on the season. Next up: at Tennessee (loss), vs. Atlanta (loss). Then, a “dangerous” spot – home vs. lowly Jacksonville. If Curtis Painter’s not careful, he could easily win this game. Could the Colts beat Cam Newton at home? If not, it’s looking like 1-win for Indy in 2011.

Miami Dolphins (0-6) – How thrilled was owner Stephen Ross that Tim Tebow intervened (he recovered the onside kick and the fumble in OT) and beat his Dolphins? Miami needs the No. 1 pick more than Indy – the Dolphins need a new coach, need to fill an always-empty stadium, and need to improve rapidly in a division with the Patriots, Bills and Jets. Problem is, the schedule is a little easier than Indy’s – I think Miami could win one or possibly two games in the November stretch at KC, vs, Washington and vs. Buffalo. More realistic NFL draft choice: Matt Barkley, QB, USC.

St. Louis Rams (0-6) – The tough schedule is to blame for the awful start – they’ve only scored single digits in three of the last four games – but the Rams should be able to pick up a few wins over scrubs like Arizona and Seattle (and maybe Cleveland and Cincinnati). More realistic NFL draft choice: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State.

Fringe contenders: Like an NCAA tournament bubble team, these guys need help:

Jacksonville (1-5): Want to get in the mix? You can get it started tonight at home against Baltimore … by playing like Miami and Indianapolis! Indifferent. Uninspired. Play like a champion? Ha. Play like you’d rather be stuffing your face at the Cheesecake Factory. Let Baltimore run you out of your own (empty) building! Yes, I’m on the Ravens -10. More realistic NFL draft choice: Matt Kalil, OL, USC.

Arizona (1-5): Playing in the weakest division in football – Seattle, Arizona and St. Louis are a combined 3-15 – I could see Kevin Kolb winning a shootout or two and finishing with 3-4 wins. But damn, that defense has less teeth than the West Virginia freaks with Mountain Dew mouth. More realistic NFL draft choice: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU.

Minnesota (1-6): Too frisky on offense to finish anywhere near the real dregs of the league. Of course, if Adrian Peterson goes down, the Vikings quickly become a contender. More realistic NFL draft choice: Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford.

Faded: Forget about it

Kansas City (3-3): Through the first two weeks, the Chiefs looked like serious contenders. Three wins a row! Little or none of the wins have to do with QB Matt Cassel, though. He stinks.

* Would have to trade the Luck pick, since they couldn’t unload Bradford. Or, they could just keep him.

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