It seems to be a story that is getting long in the tooth. Decent start, not a good second half and a close loss. The lack of effective half-time adjustments is a damning indictment of the current coaching regime. Right now, Thigpen has hit a plateau in his development. I am still waiting for him to start to spread the ball around. It may be until next training camp before we see that kind of development from him. Remember last off-season when we were discussing our primary needs? Well, this season has showed us that D front seven is the primary need. The good news is that we need three players for a top ten defense. The bad news? Their names are Neil Smith, Derrick Thomas and Willie Lanier. More realistically, we need two impact players and one additional good player to have a top ten defense. That, Addicts, is a tall order. However, that is what it will take.
Draft Position Watch
With three games left, we can start narrowing things down. Detroit is pretty much a lock to draft before us. Write them down in pen for the #1 pick in the draft. The Bengals have 1.5 victories and look like they are mailing in December. Write them down in pencil for the #2 pick. The Chiefs, Seattle and the Rams all have two wins. Currently, based on strength of schedule (as calculated for all opponents, using current records) Seattle would draft #3, the Rams #4 and the Chiefs #5. The Raiders have three wins and have the #6 spot. Jacksonville and Cleveland have four wins and are in positions #7 and #8 respectively. It is likely that we will draft somewhere between #3 and #6.
The last week of the season is a real wild card. Strange results can happen as teams locked into spots tend to rest their regulars, other teams play hard and some mail it in. Predicting that week is very hard. So, let’s focus on the next two weeks. The Bengals play Washington and Cleveland. Washington is in a free-fall and who knows what will happen in a rivalry game with Cleveland. However, 0-2 is your most likely result. We have San Diego and Miami. San Diego has it’s back up against the wall. Miami is possible, but unlikely. Seattle and the Rams play each other this week. That should help break up the logjam we are currently in. Seattle goes on to play the Jets the following week. That is a probable loss. The Rams play San Francisco the following week. They have a chance to win that game. The Raiders play the Pats then Houston. They have a chance to beat Houston. Our most optimistic realistic draft position scenario would be for Seattle to win this week and the Rams to beat San Francisco while we lose to San Diego and Miami. This would put us in the #3 slot alone with two wins going into that last wild week.