It appears that the race for the #1 overall pick in next year's draft is down to two teams, the Lions and Raiders. Both currently control a record of 2-11, which is the worst in all of the NFL. Only one team remains that has three wins, Tampa Bay, meaning that the rest have four or more. With this battle for mediocrity coming down to the final three weeks, it really is up to who can continue to lose.
Hypothetically speaking, if the Lions and Raiders both lost their remaining three games and both had identical records, then how exactly would it be decided as to who gets the #1 pick? Well, it's all based on strength of schedule (thanks to gojohn10 for finding the info).
If Detroit does in fact lose out and Oakland manages to do the same, then the final tie-breaking method to determine which team is in worst shape comes down to the rankings of strength of schedule. Currently, Detroit's schedule is easier than Oakland's by a decent margin (thanks to ClutchHomer for the info), meaning that if both teams do lose their final games, then chances are Detroit gets the first pick. I guess playing in a worse division like the NFC North has its advantages even when you are 2-11.
The only thing that could come in between Detroit and a #1 draft pick is some unforeseen win out of nowhere. Just for everyone's luck, the Lions would pull off an upset against Chicago or at Dallas to blow this opportunity for new failure by Matt Millen. Something that is so interesting is that throughout these past years of struggling so desperately with Matt Millen at the helm, he has never had the chance to draft first overall. Imagine how many things could go wrong then. I think it's safe to say Lions fans would have to be watched carefully when picking time comes around.
To get an idea of what Detroit and Oakland have left for the rest of this season, take a look at their remaining schedules. Detroit heads to Green Bay this weekend to face the Packers. Although Green Bay isn't having a great season, they are still going to be a hard team to beat. Following that game, Detroit comes home one last time this season on Christmas Eve to play one of the NFC's best, the Chicago Bears. Even though the Bears may have nearly everything wrapped up by then, they'll still be out to get a win over Detroit. Finally, on the last day of the year, Detroit heads down to Dallas. The Cowboys could be playing for a first round bye in the playoffs, so undoubtedly they should win easily.
Moving on to Oakland, the Raiders' final three games aren't any easier than Detroit's. This Sunday they host St. Louis, who never want to lose to a team like Oakland. Then, Kansas City comes to town with playoff hopes still in their thoughts. Then, to cap off the year, Oakland has to make a trip east to play the Jets. Just as Kansas City, the Jets will have playoff hopes in the back of their head.
Comparing the two schedules, neither team is likely to get a win, but I could see an upset happening along the way. Oakland has two more home games, and although they are against pretty good teams, both could fall to the Raiders. As for Detroit, the Lions always seem like they end up winning in the final weeks to mess up the draft order, so winning late wouldn't surprise me, no matter how bad they really are.
Some teams' fans get to look forward to the final weeks of the season because a tight playoff race could come down to one or two plays. Lions fans on the other hand get to discuss how bad the team's record will be in order to determine the draft order. Oh well, at least something about this is still interesting.