|Andrew Luck applauds the effort of teams trying to land the top pick. (Getty Images)|
On Thursday night, the Colts theoretically -- as Gregg Doyel noted in his lose-lose column from the game -- shot themselves in the foot by beating Houston 19-16. After all, even though we play to win the games, you don't want to win so many games that you lose out on once-in-a-generation prospect Andrew Luck.
Fortunately, the Colts didn't totally sink their own battleship against the Texans -- the NFL confirmed on Friday, via Peter King of Sports Illustrated, that if the Colts lose to the Jaguars in Week 17, they will clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Currently, the Colts, Rams and Vikings all have two losses. The Colts have the "best" strength of schedule (read: they play a worse set of teams than St. Louis or Minnesota and yet are just as bad), so they'd likely win any tiebreaker for the top pick if all three two-win teams lose their remaining games.
If the Colts win, however, they won't just be working on a serious Hail Mary for Jim Caldwell's career as coach there; they'll also probably cough up a shot at Luck.
That presumes that the Vikings fall to the Redskins and Bears, of course. If they do, though, they'll hold the No. 1 overall pick and be faced with a fascinating decision.
If they're sure Christian Ponder, taken in the top 10 of the 2011 Draft, is the answer, they can move the top pick to a team that's desperate for a quarterback.
The Dolphins and Redskins would, by most accounts, be willing to give up an insane haul of draft picks in exchange for the rights to draft Luck.
Of course, the Colts could also trade the rights to Luck for a bevy of picks, but that would give Peyton Manning more leverage when it came to any attempted negotiations of the deadline for picking up his option than would missing out on the top pick. Plus, Indy has a need in the long term for a franchise quarterback, so seeing them deal the top pick in the draft is pretty unlikely.
Then again, a few weeks ago, so was the possibility of someone else landing it.
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