We are in the stretch drive in the race for No. 1 and a number of teams stepped up their performances in Week 12 to make a bid for the ultimate consolation prize. (Check out the six biggest soul-crushing losses of 2012.)
Take the New York Jets for instance. The team went to epic lengths to make a late-season push for the No. 1 spot. And if you want to think of something scary, consider this. The Jets are a truly awful NFL team. They really haven't scratched the surface yet because they've yet to use Tim Tebow. It's like he's their secret weapon in the race for No. 1.
The No. 1 pick in the draft, that is.
Undaunted, we will continue our look at those teams competing to have the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, no matter who the top dog is. And until we have a better name, we will continue to refer to this space as the Fans for Barkley.
And without further ado ...
Team fortunes can turn on one play, one game. And when the Panthers look back on the 2012 season and wonder how they failed to be No. 1, they will look at that special teams fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter that cost them. The Panthers might have put themselves into a hole even they and coach Ron Rivera can't dig themselves out of.
The Cardinals were the darlings of the NFL (at least to me) during the first month of the season, as they raced out to a 4-0 mark. But the loss to the Buffalo Bills launched this team into a race for No. 1. Those four early wins really hurt this team's chances. You have to wonder if this late-season drive is too little, too late. No matter how impressive Ryan Lindley is.
Don't say this doesn't mean anything to the Raiders. The club lost its cool in a loss to the Bengals on Sunday, so you can tell the stakes are high. The Raiders also appear committed to a real run at No. 1 with a possible move to Terrelle Pryor at quarterback. It's not going to be easy for the Raiders, though. Dates with the Chiefs and Chargers still loom. The Raiders will have to be at their absolute worst to get past either of them.
This is how low the Chargers have sunk in recent years. All the team needed to do to not blow the game against the Ravens was to keep them from converting a fourth-and-29. And only the Chargers could find a way to make that happen. But congratulations to A.J. Smith, his mission to take the Chargers from 14-2, best team in the NFL to the worst in the league is nearly complete. I mean, that's what he was doing when he hired Norv Turner, right?
Nobody really believed the Eagles were contenders for the No. 1 spot. They've gone out of their way to prove they belong. When the Eagles needed a big play to go against them (like a special teams fumble), the Birds found a way to make it happen. Honestly, a home loss to the Panthers isn't an easy thing, but the Eagles pulled it off.
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