Wednesday, December 9, 2009

4 Weeks Left - Where Will Tampa Bay Finish?

Barring a trade, we're looking at 4 teams in the mix for the top spot in the draft: Tampa Bay (1-1), St. Louis (1-11), Cleveland (1-11), and Detroit (2-10).

If my sources are correct, here are the current strengths of schedule (lowest gets highest pick):
Browns .451
Rams .467
Lions .470
Bucs .580

Cleveland – I don’t see the Browns beating the Steelers, despite how bad Pittsburgh is playing, but Cleveland’s last three games should be competitive. They play at Kansas City in what might be their most winnable game, and they close things out at home against Oakland and Jacksonville. I still don’t see how the Jaguars are in the playoff race. That teams simply isn’t that good. I’ll give Cleveland a win against either Kansas City or Oakland.

St. Louis – They won’t win this week at Tennessee, and they won’t win at Arizona in two weeks. Do they have a shot against the freefalling Texans at home next week? What about San Francisco at home in the finale? I think the Rams finish 1-15.

Detroit – I think the next two games are easy losses (@ Baltimore and at home vs. Arizona). Can they then win at San Francisco? Will they beat the Bears at home? I think the final game is the most winnable for them, but I see a 2-14 finish for the Lions.

Tampa Bay – I had this game as one of my three Buccaneer wins heading into the year, and I think this is their best shot at another win this year. Kellen Clemens starts for the Jets in what will likely be a very ugly and low scoring contest. Darrelle Revis will take Antonio Bryant out of the game, and Freeman will have little luck against the rest of the secondary. He’ll likely be blitzed all day and forced into bad situation after bad situation. I don’t see this team (given our history) going out west and beating the Seahawks next week. Regardless of the Saints’ mindset, we’re not beating them in New Orleans, and the Falcons beat us without Matt Ryan a couple weeks ago. If they’re still in the playoff hunt come week 17, we’re getting their A game.

So here’s how I have the top of the draft shaping up:
1) St. Louis – Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)
2) Tampa Bay – Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
3) Cleveland – Jake Locker (QB, Washington)
4) Detroit – Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) or Russell Okung (T, Oklahoma St - I have a feeling he won't be my highest rated tackle in the next month or two)

As long as we stay ahead of the Lions, I think we’ll have our shot at Suh.

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