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Will the Rams at least win the race for the first pick in the draft?

With three games remaining in the season for the St. Louis Rams - and the outcome all but written - lots of talk has already shifted to which spot in the draft the Rams will wind up with. They're racing Tampa Bay, but a single win by either team could change the dynamics of the race to the bottom, er, top. Without wading into the confusing issue of who is on top right now, I thought we'd look at the rest of the schedule for both teams, since it's unlikely to be settled until the last week of the season wraps since the NFL uses opponent records to determine their strength of schedule tie breaker. 

Using DVOA, let's take a look:

Tampa Bay
Overall: -33.7%, Offense: -20.1%, Defense: 14.0%

  • Seattle: Overall: -23.6%, Offense: -13.6%, Defense: 12.0%
  • New Orleans: Overall: 31.3%, Offense: 31.1%, Defense: -1.8%
  • Atlanta: Overall: -3.5%, Offense: 8.3%, Defense: 12.0%

Ouch, playing New Orleans twice isn't going to help the schedule Gods give the Rams the first pick, but we've also played the Colts. The Bucs' most winnable game would appear to be this week against Seattle. However, they are in Seattle for this game. Their next home game comes against the Falcons in the last week of the season. They could very well win that one, especially if the Falcons continue to suffer injuries. They played them pretty close in a 17-20 loss in week 12.

St. Louis
Overall: -40.7%, Offense: -21.0%, Defense: 19.9%

  • Houston: Overall: 13.9%, Offense: 16.7%, Defense: 5.8%
  • Arizona: Overall: 18.8%, Offense: 13.7%, Defense: -1.4%
  • San Francisco: Overall: 4.9%, Offense: -7.0%, Defense: -11.8%

That's actually a pretty tough schedule. Houston's eighth ranked offense should roll over the Rams' thirty-first ranked defense. Prospects against Arizona don't look bright given the results of the last time we played them, and this time we'll be in Arizona. Their best chance for another win would be to get really, really fired up against the Niners when they visit the Dome to close out the season.

All told, it seems increasingly likely that the Rams will get the first pick in the draft when everything's said and done come January.