NFL's Race to the Bottom
It’s down to the nitty-gritty. The 2018 NFL regular season is 75 percent done, and there’s an incredible three-way race that’s gripping the nation – a race to see who will win the No. 1 pick at the 2019 NFL Draft. The following trio of sad sacks is tied at 2-9 heading into Week 13; they’d better keep losing, because there are three more teams at 3-8 who would love to get their hands on that top pick.
1. Arizona Cardinals (2-9 SU, 5-5-1 ATS)
The Cardinals were expected to struggle in their first year under head coach Steve Wilks, and they’ve delivered in spades. Sam Bradford proved to be nothing more than window dressing at quarterback; he was replaced in Week 4 by rookie Josh Rosen, the No. 10 pick out of UCLA, and Rosen (30.8 QBR) has been the worst starting quarterback in the league this season. Hey, it happened to Jared Goff, too, so at least there’s hope for the future.
Arizona actually has a pretty solid defense, and they’ve lost three games by a field goal or less, so if they’re not careful, they could play their way out of last place. Good thing they have three of their remaining five games on the road; their biggest trouble spot is in Week 14 at home against the 4-7 Detroit Lions. Winning this matchup could really mess things up for the Cards
2. San Francisco 49ers (2-9 SU, 3-8 ATS)
This isn’t what the Niners had in mind for 2018. They were a popular outsider pick to win Super Bowl LIII, but QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3, leaving C.J. Beathard (39.7 QBR) at the controls. Five straight losses would follow, and it looked like San Francisco was well on their way to nabbing Ohio State DE Joey Bosa with that No. 1 pick.
Then Beathard got hurt, and third-string QB Nick Mullens had an epic NFL debut against the No. 3 team on our list, giving the Niners their second win of the 2018 campaign. Fortunately, Mullens (61.6 QBR) has slowed down since then, and either he or Beathard will be in tough games down the stretch; the only losing team left on the schedule is the visiting Denver Broncos (5-6 SU, 5-5-1 ATS) in Week 14, and they’ve pulled off back-to-back upsets as Bovada one of the best sportsbooks in the industry puts them as underdogs to keep their AFC Wild Card hopes alive.
3. Oakland Raiders (2-9 SU, 3-8 ATS)
By just about every measure, the Raiders have been the worst team in the league this season – and it’s almost certainly by design. They’re moving to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, and it’s been a fire sale all year long. Trading LB Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for a pair of first-round picks was only the most prominent move in this massive downsizing. As a result, Oakland have the worst point differential in the NFL at minus-140, two points below the Cardinals.
There’s just one problem: The Raiders beat Arizona 23-21 in Week 11. That gives the Cards the inside track in this race to the bottom, but at least there will be plenty more losses between now and the postseason. Oakland have both their games against the Kansas City Chiefs (9-2 SU, 8-2-1 ATS) still to play, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1 SU, 6-4-1 ATS) will be at the Coliseum in Week 14. We’ll see how serious the Raiders are about tanking in Week 15 when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals (5-6 SU and ATS), who have placed QB Andy Dalton on injured reserve with a sprained thumb. A loss here would make Al Davis proud.