MINNEAPOLIS — All that good luck the Indianapolis Colts have received on the field these last two weeks could leave them with no Luck at all when the NFL draft rolls around.
The Colts have won two straight games to fall into a tie with the Vikings and Rams for the league's worst record and the chance to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick.
With Peyton Manning out for the year with a neck injury, the Colts lost their first 13 games of the season, and most figured Luck could start looking for an Indy-based realtor.
Then a funny thing happened — the Colts started winning. They beat Tennessee two weeks ago for their first win of the season. No big deal, right? They still had a game on two-win teams in Minnesota and St. Louis and didn't have to deal with the ignominy of going winless for an entire season.
Vikings fans were already dreaming of USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil coming in to protect Christian Ponder and clear a path for Adrian Peterson. With Sam Bradford under center, Rams fans were drooling over the prospects of bringing in Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon as the stud receiver he's been missing early in his career.
Then the Colts went out and won on Thursday night against the playoff-bound Texans.
What were they thinking?!?
That was some of the outcry heard from fans and pundits after the victory, which many view as jeopardizing the franchise's long-term health by risking losing out on another All-Pro caliber quarterback in Luck to eventually replace the face of the franchise, albeit one who will turn 36 in March and has had multiple neck surgeries the past two seasons.
All of a sudden some Colts fans — particularly those who were showing up to Lucas Oil Stadium with blue No. 12 jerseys that had "Luck" written on the back — have an entirely different pain in their necks.
"That's not for the players to worry about," Colts running back Joseph Addai said. "I don't worry about that. I just go out and keep playing ball."
Now all three teams are tied for the fewest wins in the league, with the Vikings and Rams still to play this weekend.
Minnesota has lost six in a row and plays at Washington on Saturday before hosting Chicago in the season finale on Jan. 1. The Rams figure to have a tough time in Pittsburgh on Saturday and with San Francisco at home to end the season.
The Colts hold the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker over Minnesota and St. Louis. So a loss at Jacksonville next week would clinch the No. 1 pick for Indianapolis.
But the Jaguars haven't exactly been hitting their stride as the season wears on. Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been erratic and head coach Jack Del Rio has already been fired.
"For one thing, not knowing what my future's going to be, just wanting to get a win," Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said after making the game-winning touchdown catch with 19 seconds to play Thursday night. "Couldn't get anything better than this."
Sorry Reggie, but some fans would say a 6-foot-4, 235-pound college star with a rocket right arm and a completion percentage of 70 percent trumps one more win in a season that has been lost since the moment Manning went under the knife.
And even though the Vikings and Rams both have already spent high first-round draft choices on young signal-callers in the last couple of years, they would have to at least consider Luck with the top pick.
Scouts lavish praise on a prospect they call the best quarterback to come out of college since John Elway. Luck's touchdown-to-interception ratio is almost 4 to 1.
Should either the Vikings or Rams luck out and sneak into the top spot, they also could decide to stick with their young guns, trade down with another team eager to take Luck and stockpile picks to fill the numerous holes on each roster.
Just look what the Chargers did in 2004 when the New York Giants so badly wanted Eli Manning. The Giants sent the Chargers draft picks that amounted to Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding to get their hands on a quarterback who would eventually lead them to a Super Bowl victory.
Up until two weeks ago, the thought of having to make that decision seemed absurd.
Then again, so did a Colts winning streak.
FORMER PLAYERS SUING NFL FOR BRAIN DAMAGE: Nearly two dozen former NFL players are suing the league over severe and permanent brain damage they say is linked to concussions suffered on the job.
The complaint filed Thursday in Miami follows a similar one in Atlanta earlier this week. It is the latest in a series of recent lawsuits against the NFL by ex-players.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of ex-Miami Dolphins teammates Patrick Surtain, Oronde Gadsden and 19 other players. It accuses the NFL of deliberately omitting or concealing years of evidence linking concussions to long-term neurological problems.
ROETHLISBERGER TO SIT: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not start Saturday when the Steelers face the St. Louis Rams.
Roethlisberger is dealing with a sprained left ankle and did not practice this week following a 20-3 loss to San Francisco on Monday.
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