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Lions Move Up in Draft Order to No. 2 Pick

If the season ended today, the Lions would have the No. 2 pick in the draft thanks to the Browns and Buccaneers winning their games this past Sunday.  The win by the Browns gave them 3 for the season, and the Buccaneers' upset victory over Seattle gave them 2 for 2009.  That means that the Lions and Buccaneers are the only 2-12 teams, and only the Rams have a worse record.  St. Louis looked like they might pull off an upset of their own against Houston to improve to 2-12 as well, but they ended up losing and are still 1-13.

The reason the Lions would have the No. 2 pick if the season ended today is because they hold the tiebreaker -- strength of schedule -- over the Buccaneers.  There has been some confusion on here over what that means, but let me explain.  The team with the easier schedule (i.e. lower winning percentage among its opponents) gets the higher pick in the first round of the draft if there is a tie.  Right now Detroit's schedule is easier than Tampa Bay's, so according to the tiebreaker, Detroit would get the second pick.  Below is a look at what the top five picks of the draft would be if the season ended today.

# Team Record Opponents Record Opponents Winning %
1 St. Louis Rams 1-13 119-105 .531
2 Detroit Lions 2-12 115-109 .513
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-12 125-99 .558
4 Cleveland Browns 3-11 114-110 .509
5 Kansas City Chiefs 3-11 118-106 .527

Had Cleveland lost to Kansas City, the Browns would be ahead of the Lions in the draft order based on a difference of only one game in the tiebreaker. That's how close this can be. If St. Louis had won, the Lions would be at the top of the draft board because their schedule is easier by four games. The difference is much greater with Tampa Bay, though.  Compared to Detroit's schedule, Tampa Bay's is tougher by ten games. 

The thing that is so interesting about the possibility of the strength of schedule tiebreaker coming into play is that St. Louis, Detroit, and Tampa Bay have a lot of the same teams on their schedules.  That is especially true for the Rams and Lions, which play each others' divisions.  This means that if St. Louis were to win another game and the Lions were to lose out, the No. 1 pick in the draft very well could be determined by the outcome of a game that neither team is even involved in. (By the way, if two teams finish with the same record and same strength of schedule, the deciding tiebreaker would be a coin flip.)

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.