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Lions Guaranteed a Top 3 Pick in 2010 NFL Draft

With one week left in the NFL season, the 2010 draft picture is starting to clear up a little bit.  There's still a lot that could happen in this last week, though, so let's take a look at where we are right now and examine what the draft lineup would be if the season ended today.

# Team Record Opponents Record Opponents Winning %
1 St. Louis Rams 1-14 126-114
2 Detroit Lions 2-13 124-116
3 Kansas City Chiefs
4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What exactly does this all mean as we head into the final week of the regular season?  A rundown of the different scenarios and what they would mean for the Lions can be seen below, but first I want to note that I am not even going to bother mentioning the Buccaneers beyond this point.  The difference between their strength of schedule and Detroit's is too large for Tampa Bay to end up with the easier schedule, so there is no way the Lions will have anything lower than the third pick.

Now that that is out of the way, here is a look at the different draft scenarios that could happen depending on if the Lions win or lose against Chicago:

Detroit Wins

  • If Kansas City also wins, the Lions will be guaranteed to have the second pick.
  • If Kansas City loses, which team gets the second pick will come down to the strength of schedule tiebreaker.  There is only a difference of one game right now, so that theoretically might not break the tie.  If that is the case, I believe the tie would be broken with a coin flip at the combine.

Detroit Loses

  • If St. Louis also loses, the Lions will be guaranteed to have the second pick.
  • If St. Louis wins, which team gets the first pick will come down to the strength of schedule tiebreaker.  As is the case with the scenario involving the Chiefs, that tiebreaker theoretically might not break the tie since there is only a difference of 2 games between the Lions' and Rams' strength of schedule.  If the teams are still tied, then the next tiebreaker is conference record.  Originally I thought it went straight to a coin flip, but if teams are in the same division or conference, then those specific records are taken into account.  For the purpose of this scenario, the Lions would end up with a 1-11 record against NFC teams and the Rams would be 2-10.  As a result, the Lions would have the top pick of the draft.

Confused?  Let me try to boil it down to something simpler.  Basically, if the Lions win, they will have either the second or third pick.  Which pick it is exactly will depend on if the Chiefs win or lose and then beyond that, strength of schedule or perhaps a coin flip.  If the Lions lose, they will have the second pick if the Rams also lose.  If the Rams win and the Lions lose, however, Detroit will have the first pick unless the Rams end up with the easier schedule. 

The way I am going to worry about the draft order on Sunday is focus first on what the Lions are doing and then worry about the Rams game if necessary.  Both are 1 p.m. starts, so there is a chance that the result of both games could be in doubt at the same time.  Nothing involving the Rams matters if the Lions win, though, so I really won't start paying too much attention to St. Louis' game until Chicago looks like they are well on their way to a victory.  At that point, if the Rams still have a chance to beat San Francisco, then I will start to worry about their game.  If the Lions end up winning, though, my focus will mainly be on what Kansas City does against the Broncos starting at 4:15 p.m.  A Kansas City win would give the Lions the second pick, whereas a loss would leave it up to the strength of schedule tiebreaker.

As you can see, a lot of different things could happen this weekend to change up next April's draft order.  All I can say is that it will be fun seeing what the Lions do against Chicago and then in turn seeing what St. Louis and Kansas City do.  What's really interesting about all of this is that if St. Louis wins and Detroit loses, the tiebreaker could end up being so close that the final game of the regular season (Bengals-Jets at 8:20 p.m.) could decide which team gets the top pick since the Lions played Cincinnati.  That is how close all of this could be.  One thing is for sure -- we are in for quite an entertaining Sunday, possibly regardless of what the Lions do against Chicago.

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