Stupid Terrible NFL Teams Continue To Win When They Shouldn’t
Lost in the fact that the 49ers lost to the Raiders yesterday, all but dooming their playoff hopes, is that the Raiders won for the second time this season. Their first win -- a victory over the Chiefs that they nearly blew by celebrating too long -- was a huge weight off the shoulders of a franchise that hadn't beaten another team in over a calendar year. This win was just stupid.
Okay, maybe "stupid" is a little harsh. Another winning experience for the team's young guys like Khalil Mack and Sio Moore isn't a bad thing, and unlike basketball it's really, really hard to "tank" effectively in the NFL (there's too much variance and chance in each game). But the Raiders were in the driver's seat for the first pick in next year's draft before Sunday and now their chances of securing that pick are slim.
Coming into Week 14, the Raiders were the league's only one-win team. That meant the odds for the first pick looked like this (via Football Outsiders):
While the Raiders upset the 49ers, the league's two-win teams -- the Titans, Jets, Jaguars, Buccaneers (who wisely jettisoned their slim chances of making the playoffs) and Dan Snyders -- did their jobs and lost. Now, according to Bill Barnwell's estimates, the Raiders have something like a 6.5 percent chance at getting the top pick. That's a near 60 percent plunge thanks to one game. He has the Bucs (who, before this week, seriously had a chance at making the playoffs despite being 2-10) leading the way now.
And as we discussed last week, when the Jaguars stupidly beat the Giants, the difference between the first pick and any other pick matters. It's the difference between getting the franchise quarterback of the future and having to trade all your assets for that quarterback (only to realize you don't have the means of building a competent team around him -- whoops!). The Raiders probably have their guy in Carr at the moment, but the ability to draft a playmaker for him or to ship the pick down to the Bucs or Titans would have paid major dividends in the future. That chance is all but gone now.
We don't have to pile on the Raiders (even though we could do that all day): The Panthers also did themselves a disservice by somehow destroying the Saints in New Orleans even though they were in the running for a top-three pick. Now they probably fancy themselves a playoff contender when in actuality this team needs to address some serious holes in the draft. We could go either way with the Titans and Giants, both of whom should be looking to lose out the rest of the way. Since they "won," the Giants can still try and think of themselves as "not as much of a total wreck as some of these other bottom-feeders," which is folly, but whatever, Tom Coughlin is fighting for his job so I guess anything goes.
As mentioned earlier, and discussed at length in Barnwell's Week 14 roundup, it's difficult to lose on purpose, and no sports team made up of professionals goes out there hoping to lose so the organization can draft guys who will eventually take the current players' jobs. But when Raiders fans look back at this era years from now, will they remember beating Colin Kaepernick, or the day they drafted a (potential) franchise-changing player? Unfortunately, it's likely that only one of those things will be said to have happened.
Photo via Getty
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