The Reggie Bush Sweepstakes

Dec. 22, 2005, midnight | By Abe Schwadron | 16 years, 1 month ago

The NFL's worst teams battle for the rights to the top draft pick

While much of the attention in the last two weeks of the NFL season will be devoted to the wild-card chase, the playoff push and the march to the Super Bowl, football's weakest teams will be focused on something much more important—a player so dynamic his name triggers highlights of ankle-breaking moves and breath-taking speed: Reggie Bush.

The Heisman trophy-winning running back out of the University of Southern California has been compared to all-time NFL greats Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders, and some pro teams have even been accused of throwing games in order to increase their chances of selecting Bush with the top pick in April's NFL draft. So while weeks 16 and 17 of the regular season will be headlined by marquee matchups, the most important games may feature teams with less than four wins. The lucky losers will be rewarded with an athlete who will revolutionize the NFL, while the winners will be saddled with angry fans and endless years of mediocrity.

The Contenders:

Houston Texans
Record: 2-12
How they got here: The Texans have been competitive in recent weeks, but their uncanny ability to lose games and two six-game losing streaks have made Houston 2005's most pathetic NFL team, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Why they need him: This team needs a ground game, a superstar and, most importantly, a savior. David Carr would appreciate Bush's help in the backfield and Houston would likely line him up all over the field, including in the slot and at wide receiver. Texans running back Domanick Davis could remain with the team, giving them a scary duo of rushers.
Remaining Schedule: Jacksonville (10-4), at San Francisco (2-12)
Lose-ability: The Texans should have no problem losing to Jacksonville, setting up a critical matchup with the 49ers in what will be known as The Bush Bowl.
Bush-O-Meter: Boiling

San Francisco 49ers
Record: 2-12
How they got here: San Francisco came into the 2005 season with high expectations, playing in a mediocre division and starting anew with a hopeful defense and a top draft pick in rookie quarterback Alex Smith. Unfortunately, the Niners, losers of their last seven games, stumbled early due to injuries and mistakes and have never recovered.
Why they need him: The Niners' defense is decent, and with a #1 pick in Smith, the team is in rebuilding mode. The addition of Bush would give San Fran an exciting and explosive offense and would put them in immediate contention in the NFC West.
Remaining Schedule: at St. Louis (5-9), Houston (2-12)
Lose-ability: Unfortunately for the Niners' hopes of nabbing Reggie Bush, the Rams are not very good. Luckily, St. Louis is a much better team at home than on the road.
Bush-O-Meter: Hot

New York Jets
Record: 3-11
How they got here: The loss of quarterback Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler early in the season, combined with a season-ending injury to running back Curtis Martin sent the Jets in a downward spiral, turning what was supposed to be a breakout year for New York into an embarrassment.
Why they need him: Martin is nearing the end of his career, and Bush's presence would open up the passing game for Pennington and talented receivers Laveranues Coles and Justin McCareins. The Jets' defense is poised to become one of the best in the NFL, and if Bush comes to the Big Apple, their offense could follow.
Remaining Schedule: New England (9-5), Buffalo (4-10)
Lose-ability: The Jets lost to the Patriots and the Bills by a combined score of 23 points in their previous meetings with the division rivals, but their home field could spell trouble.
Bush-O-Meter: Warming

Green Bay Packers
Record: 3-11
How they got here: Injuries. The Packers have lost almost every key offensive player to injury thus far in 2005 save for Brett Favre, going through five running backs and losing Pro Bowl wideout Javon Walker. Favre leads the league in interceptions and the Packers have lost several tight games.
Why they need him: Rookie RB Samkon Gado has filled in nicely for Green Bay, but Bush would give the Packers a dynamic rusher to help Favre end his career on a high note and ease rookie Aaron Rodgers' transition to the starting quarterback job. Bush would put the Pack back atop the NFC North in a heartbeat.
Remaining Schedule: Chicago (10-4), Seattle (12-2)
Lose-ability: The Packers have the toughest schedule of the Bush contenders, although Favre's competitiveness makes every game winnable.
Bush-O-Meter: Rising

New Orleans Saints
Record: 3-11
How they got here: The Saints' season has been destroyed by an early season injury to All-Pro running back Deuce McAlister and the circumstances the team has endured due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Bad luck, bad play and bad help from the NFL have made the Saints' season unsuccessful.
Why they need him: New Orleans may be the most deserving team of the contenders. Bush's natural ability would make things easier for Saints' quarterback Aaron Brooks (or whoever quarterbacks the squad in 2006) and potential star wide receivers Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth. Bush's only downside in the Saints' mind? He can't play defense.
Remaining Schedule: Detroit (4-10), Tampa Bay (9-5)
Lose-ability: The Saints are running out of steam, which may help them limp into 2006 with two more losses.
Bush-O-Meter: Lukewarm

Abe Schwadron. Abe is a huge basketball, baseball, and football fan that likes to read up on sports in SLAM, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN magazines. Hobbies include streetball, poker and film-making. A sneaker addict, Abe likes to keep his kicks fresh. Abe likes reggae and hip-hop music, … More »

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