By Brad Carroll
It's impossible to be mad at your favorite team for winning a game, even if it could possibly stunt the growth of the franchise in the long run. That was the case for the New York Jets and their fans last Sunday. The Jets pulled off a big upset of the red-hot Pittsburgh Steelers to break an eight-game losing streak and give the team and fans something to smile about for the first time in a long time.
But the much-needed victory, which allowed everyone that follows the team to regain their football sanity, dropped the Jets to fourth in the NFL draft order if the season ended today. The Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would take the first three selections. Any drop the Jets suffer in the draft order takes them one step closer to losing the chance to draft potential franchise quarterbacks Marcus Mariota, from Oregon, and Jameis Winston, from Florida State.
There is no suitable alternative to those two passers, unless you want to see Geno Smith attempt to play quarterback again next season.
Both the Raiders and Buccaneers could be in the market for Mariota or Winston, with Tampa Bay an almost-lock to draft either one of those quarterbacks. The Raiders still have a decision to make, as they have to determine whether or not to stick with Derek Carr, their current rookie starter, or start over with one of the two highly-touted college quarterbacks. The Jaguars should be set with Blake Bortles, who is starting in his rookie season.
If the Titans lose this Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will tie the Jets with a 2-8 record. Tennessee is in the quarterback market as well.
Obviously there is a ton of competition for Mariota and Winston, including from one or more teams that may not even be in the conversation now, but trade up into the first few picks to make a big splash by landing a potential franchise passer.
Both the Jets and Jaguars are idle this week, so there will be no movement with those teams. The Jets (2-8) are at the Buffalo Bills and the Jaguars (1-9) are at the Indianapolis Colts next week. Here is your weekly guide to what all Jets fans should watch and root for during Week 11 of the NFL season. Follow us on our new Twitter account for all the Jets analysis and picks you can handle, and we will follow you back as well.
Raiders (0-9) beat Chargers: It might be a lost cause rooting for the Raiders to win a game this season, but in the NFL, anything can and will happen. It won't be easy, but Oakland could pull off the big upset at San Diego, even though they are 10.5-point underdogs. Realistically, it won't happen, and the Raiders likely will sit at 0-10 after the game. The only thing Jets fans can hope for is that Derek Carr continues to put his stamp on the team as a potential franchise passer. That way the Raiders wouldn't be in the market for a quarterback in the draft, and wouldn't cost the Jets a potential franchise passer if they don't trade the pick. So, root most for Carr to shine.
Buccaneers (1-8) beat Redskins: Washington is one of six teams that sit at 3-6, which is still in position to move ahead of the Jets in the draft order, but it's imperative that Tampa Bay picks up a few wins as the season progresses. This game in Washington could be a great chance for the Bucs to steal one and draw even with the Jets at 2-8. The Redskins are huge favorites, however, at 7.5-points, so an upset is unlikely. The Buccaneers desperately need a quarterback and are the biggest threat to the Jets in that regard this season. Washington shouldn't be in the quarterback sweepstakes if they suffer a big fall in the standings.
Titans (2-7) beat Steelers: Tennessee likely catches the Steelers at the worst possible time, coming off a terrible loss to the Jets a week earlier. Pittsburgh looked horrible on offense, as Ben Roethlisberger couldn't do anything against a group of bad defensive backs for the Jets. Tennessee would be in big trouble either way, as it's a 6.5-point underdog at home Monday night. The Titans are currently starting Zach Mettenberger at quarterback, which means they'll seriously consider taking Mariota or Winston in the draft if they're still on the board.
In addition to Washington, the group of lurking 3-6 teams is the St. Louis Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and New York Jets. Of that entire group, only the Rams would have a serious enough need to take a quarterback in the first round. But there's always a chance one of them could ruin the Jets' plans if they end up with a higher draft pick.
The Jets may be out of the postseason chase this year, but there is still plenty of scoreboard watching to be done over the final seven weeks of the season to keep everyone interested.