Just imagine that in 190 days, you could hear Roger Goodell say this: With the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Baltimore Ravens select ...
No way, you say? Well, let's see a show of hands who thought a Super Bowl contender like the Ravens would be 1-5 before the season? Exactly.
The Ravens are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions for the worst record in the NFL. The analytical site, numberFire, gives Baltimore a 9.7 percent chance of ending up with the No. 1 overall pick. Only the Jaguars (27.5 percent) and Chicago Bears (16.8 percent) have a better shot at it.
It's probably too early to envision Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who has been compared to J.J. Watt, in a Ravens uniform. Given a heavy home schedule in November and December, the more likely scenario is Baltimore finishes somewhere in the top 10. But, let's face it, all predictions are completely off the board with a team that has lost to the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens could easily be 0-6 if not for Ben Roethlisberger's injured knee and Josh Scobee's problematic foot.
There will be a growing number of fans who will want the Ravens to tank the season for the draft. In their minds, a lost season should at the very least provide a reward on April 28 and allow Baltimore to reboot for another playoff run in 2016. The Indianapolis Colts had the "Suck for Luck" campaign in 2011, which landed them franchise quarterback Andrew Luck in their only non-playoff season since 2002.
That's just not the mindset for an ultra-competitive coach like John Harbaugh, or any NFL head coach for that matter. The Ravens don't see themselves as the worst team in football. Baltimore looks to the fact all five losses have been decided by a total of 22 points. The Ravens see themselves closer to turning the corner than bottoming out as a franchise.
"We’re not doing the things we need to do to win [close games]," Harbaugh said Monday. "In the end, and we have to get those things fixed. We’re going to find a way to get it done, and we are going to improve. That’s what we have to do, and that’s really all we can do, and we will get it done.”
There are some factors that favor the Ravens regaining some respectability. Of Baltimore's final 10 opponents, only three (Arizona, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati) have winning records. The Ravens also have six remaining games at M&T Bank Stadium, where they have the NFL's third-best home record since 2008 despite two losses there this season.
"Maybe we’re just setting up a Cinderella story," linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
Then again, no one should jump to conclusions. The Ravens have been favored to win in their last five games, and they have won just once. It's going to be a challenge for Baltimore to win any game if it continues to get off to a slow start on offense, give up big plays on defense and hurt itself with turnovers and penalties.
This is just a season unlike any other under Harbaugh. It's typically the time to gauge Baltimore's chances of making the playoffs. There's only a 0.3 percent chance of that happening, according to numberFire. Compare that to the 57 percent chance of the Ravens getting a top 10 pick in this year's draft, which is based on the simulations from ESPN senior analytics specialist Brian Burke.
All of the pain from the last-minute losses, tough injuries and bad luck could result in a big gain for the Ravens. Baltimore can use a young relentless pass-rusher and a franchise left tackle. Whether the Ravens will get their first choice of one could end up being the main drama over the next 11 weeks.