Handicapping the #1 Overall Pick Race, Where the Raiders Are in Pole Position

Handicapping the #1 Overall Pick Race, Where the Raiders Are in Pole Position

NFL

Handicapping the #1 Overall Pick Race, Where the Raiders Are in Pole Position

With the contenders and pretenders sorting themselves out as we have hit the midway point of the season, the race for the worst record is clearing up some. But there are still several contenders. Here’s a breakdown of how it is likely to shake out.

#1 Oakland Raiders: Oakland still plays the Chiefs twice, the Chargers, the Steelers, and at the Ravens and Bengals. As hard is it to believe based on how awful they’ve looked, the toughest part of the schedule is still to come. The home game against Denver, and the key showdown at Arizona, are the only two games where they are likely to be an underdog of less than double digits. If the Raiders play like they have to this point, Jon Gruden is likely to have coached a team to the worst record in the league in his return from the broadcasting booth.

Current Record: 1-7

Projected Record: 2-14

 

#2 Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have two wins over the 49ers and zero over the rest of the league. They play five of the last eight games on the road, and will be big underdogs in all five. The Rams are one of the remaining home games. That means the quest for the top pick likely comes down to a game against Detroit, and the home matchup against the Raiders. If the Cardinals beat the Raiders at home then the Raiders are the prohibitive favorite to get the first overall pick. If the Raiders win, then it’s going to be a race to the end.

Current Record: 2-6

Projected Record: 3-13

#3 Buffalo Bills: The offense has been an abomination, so much that you wonder how they won two games. But the future schedule isn’t as difficult as the Raiders and Cardinals are facing, as they only play one team currently in playoff position (the Patriots in Week 16). They get the Jets and Dolphins twice, and home games against teams not used to the cold in Jacksonville and Detroit. They’ll probably jump up and win a couple more.

Current Record: 2-7

Projected Record: 4-12

#4 New York Giants: The Giants are 1-5 in games decided by seven points or less, and that has them currently matching the Raiders for the fewest wins in the league. But unless that string of close game ineptness continues, they are likely to win a few more games down the stretch. If they win at San Francisco this week, they aren’t finishing with the worst record. They also have several games that are closer to toss-ups down the stretch, with home games against Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and Dallas, and a road game at the Colts.

Current Record: 1-7

Projected Record: 4-12

#5 San Francisco 49ers

If San Francisco didn’t have their struggles against the woeful Cardinals, they wouldn’t even be there. They’ve been competent even after the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo, but 1-4 in close games. Nick Mullens became the third quarterback to start a game this year and embarrassed the Raiders. They should be a plucky underdog and have several games they could pull an upset down the stretch. They get the Giants this week, have a three-game home stretch against the Broncos, Seahawks, and Bears, and go to Tampa Bay.

Current Record: 2-7

Projected Record; 4-12

#6 Cleveland Browns

The overtime Browns have improved, but that improvement still has them near the bottom of the league at the halfway point. They don’t have any games where they are likely to be favored down the stretch, and play four teams in playoff position (Cincinnati twice, Houston, and Carolina) plus games at Baltimore and Denver, and the home game against Atlanta this week. If things go downhill with Gregg Williams as interim coach, they are a sleeper pick to get in the Top 3, but they should pull a couple of upsets along the way.

Current Record: 2-6-1

Projected Record: 4-11-1

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