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Suck for Luck: Week 9

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Peter Schrager

Peter Schrager is the Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com and the national sports correspondent for FOX News Channel's "FOX Report Weekend." He's the co-author of Victor Cruz's New York Times' best-selling memoir "Out of the Blue" and lives in New York. Feel free to e-mail him at peterschrager@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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There seemed to be a significant rise in the overall national interest in the “Suck for Luck” conversation last week. The topic made for great debate on sports radio shows across the nation, as well as some of the top studio TV shows. Over on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”, Chris Collinsworth, Michael Lombardi, and Phil Simms got in a rather heated debate over whether the Colts would select Luck if they owned the first pick.

When Lombardi, the former Raiders GM under Al Davis, insisted that this was an owner’s decision and not a GM’s to make, Phil Simms assertively responded, "There is no way if Peyton Manning is given a clean bill of health — I'm going to go on that assumption — that he is going to let them draft Andrew Luck."

Then there were the hypothetical situations, sprouting up in bar room debates and sports radio calls across the country. Some great ones, really.

On Mike Francesca’s radio program on New York City’s WFAN station last Thursday, a caller asked, “Mike, if the Jets have already locked up a playoff berth by week 17, does it behoove them to lose the final game of the season to the Dolphins, thus preventing them from having to play this guy twice every season for the next two decades?”

Francesca casually dismissed the suggestion, but the fact it was even made, gets you thinking. What’s a meaningless regular season game mean to a team in the grand scheme of things?

On SiriusXM, longtime Cowboys personnel chief Gil Brandt was asked what kind of bounty Luck would fetch on the open market. His response? Hold on to your chair, here. Brandt said the top pick in the 2012 Draft — if Luck, in fact, leaves school in January — would be worth “two No. 1's, two No. 2’s, and two No. 3’s.”

POWER RANKINGS

Which teams are looking up in this week's NFL power rankings?

Six picks for one guy? If he’s as good as hyped, that’s a bargain.

Keep on sending your emails, hypothetical situations, and opinions. We’ll start including them in this column each week.

Here’s the Suck For Luck Outlook for Week 9:

Suck for Luck, Week 8

Andrew Luck’s Weekend:
29-40, 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 rushing TD, 1 INT in a 56-48 3OT win over USC

Luck showed moxie and poise, bouncing back from a devastating late fourth quarter interception to guide the Cardinal on an 11-play, 2:17 game-tying drive. In the overtime sessions, Luck was superb, leading the Cardinal to the end zone on all three drives, and converting a key 2-point conversion to trusted tight end Colby Fleener that gave Stanford an 8-point lead. For the first time all season, Luck had to play from behind and make plays with the game on the line. He passed that test, with flying colors.

Up next: At Oregon State, Saturday

The Suitors

1. Indianapolis Colts: 0-8

Week 8 performance: Lost to Tennessee 27-10: The Titans beat the Colts for the first time since 2008, but this wasn’t the same Colts that Tennessee’s struggled with in recent years. Indianapolis committed a season-high 10 penalties and were down 20-0 at the half. Things don’t appear to be getting better anytime soon.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Curtis Painter: 26-49, 250 yards, 0 TDs, 2 interceptions
On the Shelf: Peyton Manning (injured), Kerry Collins (injured), Dan Orlovsky

Would they take Luck? There was some great discourse on this topic last week and it’ll certainly make for one of the most fascinating personnel decisions in NFL history. Early on in the year, there was this widely held assumption that Indianapolis would be the ideal place for a guy like Luck to end up. The thought was, “Hey, he’d go there, learn from the master, and carry the torch.” But now, as this becomes more and more of a realistic scenario and not a hypothetical one, we realize that there are holes all over that argument. First and foremost, why is it assumed that Peyton Manning would want to teach and mentor Luck? Sure, Peyton’s a good guy and a tremendous ambassador of the game, but he’s also a competitor. He’s going to go out of his way to train and guide the guy pushing him out the door? Second, why would the Colts even want that situation? It’s not an embarrassment of riches, but rather, a situation set up for failure. The Packers, in hindsight, were quite fortunate that Green Bay fans were never clamoring for Aaron Rodgers to get a shot when Brett Favre was in town. If Andrew Luck is on the bench and the Colts start out 3-3 next season? After this year of Andrew Luck hype? Forget about it. There’d be fans demanding to see the kid the second the Colts lost a game. Indianapolis can take Luck and set themselves up for the future. But if they opt to go that route, I don’t see how they can keep Manning on the roster, too. Like I said, this will be fascinating.

2. Miami Dolphins: 0-7

Week 8 performance: Lost 20-17 to New York Giants: For the second week in a row, the Dolphins led at halftime, and looked to be in striking distance of their first win. For the second week in a row, they gave way the game in the final moments. There was a lot of news about coach Tony Sparano putting his house up for sale last week, but there’s not much there. Jack Del Rio put his up for sale last year, too.

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The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Matt Moore, 13-22, 138 yards, 1 INT
On the Shelf: Chad Henne (injured), J.P. Losman
Would they take Luck? Yes. Yes. Yes. They’d have their pick into Commissioner Goodell on Jan. 1.

3. Arizona Cardinals: 1-6

Week 8 performance: Lost 30-27 to Baltimore: Up 24-3 early the Cardinals found a way to lose in the second half. Kevin Kolb was sacked six times and intercepted once. He only completed 10 passes.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Kevin Kolb: 10-21, 153 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
On the Shelf: John Skelton, Richard Bartel, Max Hall

Would they take Luck? This one would be awfully interesting. Kolb’s deal called for $21 million guaranteed coming his way, but he has been an absolute disaster this season. My colleague Adam Schein blames the offensive line, but I can’t get over how antsy and inaccurate Kolb’s been. In a larger media market, I think there’d be some questions about the trade itself, and some calls for Richard Bartel. Is one year too early to give up on Kolb? Perhaps. Maybe the Cardinals would be better served trading the No. 1 for six picks and rebuilding that awful offensive line. But if Andrew Luck’s sitting there at No. 1? I’d find it hard to resist if I’m the Arizona front office brass.

4. St. Louis Rams: 1-6

Week 8 performance: Beat New Orleans 31-21: A weekend after the Rams gave up 294 rushing yards in Dallas, St. Louis beat the mighty Saints in the upset of the week. A.J. Feeley played well, Steven Jackson was incredible, and the defense awoke out of a season-long stupor to actually show some teeth. The Rams looked like the team we expected them to be before the season started — competent and competitive.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: A.J. Feeley: 20-37, 175 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
On the Shelf: Sam Bradford (injured), Tom Brandstater

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Would they take Luck? Whether Luck is the better future pro or not, Bradford is probably untradeable, currently in the second year of a massive $78 million contract. Look for the Rams to trade the pick, pick up some additional selections, and give Sam Bradford an elite playmaker (Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, perhaps) to grow old with.

5. Seattle Seahawks: 2-5

Week 8 performance: Lost 34-12 to Cincinnati: Seattle fell behind 17-3 early, before Tarvaris Jackson led the Seahawks back to within 8 points in the fourth quarter. Sure enough, a Brandon Tate punt return TD, followed quickly by a Reggie Nelson INT return for a score put the game out of reach late.

The Quarterbacks:
The Guy: Tarvaris Jackson: 21-406, 323 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
On the Shelf: Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Portis

Would they take Luck? The Seahawks have now lost two straight and have scored just one touchdown in those two games. They gave a bit of money to Tarvaris Jackson in the offseason, but Andrew Luck’s in an entirely different league. The Seahawks would take Andrew Luck if they had the first pick in the draft. The question, of course, is whether Pete Carroll would still be around to coach him.

Also in the Running

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6. Minnesota Vikings: 2-6
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-5
8. Denver Broncos: 2-5

The Other Guys

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked quarterbacks on my “Big Board”:

3. Matt Barkley, USC: 28-for-45, 284 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT in a 56-48 loss to Stanford
4. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: 35-for-47, 505 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs in a 58-17 win over Kansas State
5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: 24-for-36, 274 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT in a 59-24 win over Baylor

Tagged: Bengals, Colts, Rams, Dolphins, Seahawks, Cardinals, Peyton Manning, A.J. Feeley, Steven Jackson, Tarvaris Jackson, Kevin Kolb, Richard Bartel, Brandon Tate, Sam Bradford

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