August is a time for optimism around the NFL, with every club believing that it can make the playoffs. But someone has to finish last. Here are the odds to finish with the worst record & get the coveted top pick in the 2015 draft.
2015 Draft Deep In Quarterbacks
The 2014 NFL Draft was considered one of the deepest in years but there was considered just one potential franchise player: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who did go No. 1 overall to Houston. Had there been a franchise quarterback, there's no doubt that the Texans would have gone that route, especially when looking at their current sad depth chart at the position.
Next year's draft looks potentially stellar at quarterback, assuming everyone comes out as expected, in Florida State's Jameis Winston (he couldn't declare in 2014), Oregon's Marcus Mariota (he may have gone ahead of Clowney had he come out), Baylor's Bryce Petty and UCLA's Brett Hundley. There is also a potential franchise left tackle in Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi and a similar type player at defensive end/linebacker in Clemson's Vic Beasley. So it likely would pay off in a big way to have your pick of these guys in landing the top overall pick. Who might get it? (with NFL odds to finish with the worst record)
Jacksonville Jaguars (+300): The Jags would almost surely take Beasley or another top defender because in the past two years they have taken a left tackle and a quarterback in the Top 3 picks of the draft. The problem with believing the Jaguars might have the worst record this year is they play in the weakest division in football, the AFC South, and could win three games there alone. Plus they have winnable home games vs. Cleveland, Miami, Dallas and the NY Giants.
Oakland Raiders (+360): The Raiders would likely take an offensive tackle if they got the top pick because they took QB Derek Carr in the second round of May's draft and pass-rusher Khalil Mack with their first-round pick. The Raiders also badly need a receiver, but you don't take one at No. 1 overall these days and there isn't one deserving of that spot even if you did. Oakland could easily go 0-6 in the AFC West and has the toughest overall schedule in the league. The only games where you might say Oakland has a good shot to win: vs. Houston, vs. Miami, at Cleveland, vs. Buffalo.
Minnesota Vikings (+600): If Minnesota didn't have Adrian Peterson, I'd consider it the favorite on this prop. The Vikings play in the tough NFC Central, have a rookie head coach in Mike Zimmer and will be playing a rookie quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater sooner or later. Best chances to win: vs. Detroit, at Buffalo, at Tampa Bay, vs. Washington.
Cleveland Browns (+1000): The Browns have a playoff-caliber offensive line and defense. They also have a rookie coach in Mike Pettine, a rookie QB who will start sooner or later in Johnny Manziel and no star running back to carry the team. Presumably no Josh Gordon, either. Best chances to win: at Jacksonville, vs. Oakland, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Houston, at Buffalo.
Buffalo Bills (+1500): The Bills have way too much talent to finish with the worst record but they do have a losing culture and don't know who their owner will be. Still, I don't see it. Best chances to win: vs. Miami, at Houston, vs. Minnesota, vs. Cleveland, at Oakland.
Tennessee Titans (+1500): The Titans could get four wins alone against Houston and Jacksonville, plus have winnable home games vs. Dallas, Cleveland and the NY Giants. Too much talent here to finish with the worst record.
Best long shot option -- Carolina (+2000): There's always one team that falls off the planet from good team one year to terrible the next. Think Houston in 2013. The Panthers might be poised to be that club if Cam Newton is injured (his backup is the forgettable Derek Anderson) or less than 100 percent for most of the year. He is coming off major ankle surgery and the offense looks rather pathetic around him. Four offensive linemen alone have retired since last season and his three top receivers left. The defense should still be good, but star end Greg Hardy might be suspended at least half the season. If the offense keeps going three-and-out, the defense is going to break down. The NFC South should be much improved this year and the Cats have to face the NFC North and AFC North along with likely losses to Seattle and Philadelphia. With Newton this should at minimum be a six-win team. Without? 3-13 is possible.
NFL Free Picks: Assuming full health of every team, Oakland remains the choice to play as your NFL pick