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Week 17 rooting guide: How to improve the Lions’ 2018 NFL Draft position

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The Lions may be picking anywhere between 13th and 20th after Sunday.

Arizona Cardinals v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Just because the Detroit Lions are out of the playoff race doesn’t mean the Rooting Guide takes a week off.

No, there are still plenty of games that affect the Detroit Lions in a way that may be very significant come late April. The 2018 NFL Draft will be extremely important for this Lions team, and as things currently stand, the Lions could realistically draft anywhere between 13th and 20th. That’s not exactly an insignificant range. So here’s what needs to happen for the Lions to maximize that number. We’ll split things into two scenarios here.

If the Lions win

Obviously, a Lions win hurts the team’s ability to move up in the draft order. But that doesn’t mean they can’t jump up from their current 18th spot. Here’s where they would need some help.

According to Tankathon.com, the Lions currently hold the third-hardest schedule among four 8-7 teams. Because the easier schedules get the higher draft pick, the Lions are going to want to finish with a lower strength of schedule. Beating the Packers helps twice there, but the main point here is that they could still jump two teams with a win on Sunday.

The Lions’ strength of schedule currently sits at .496, while the Bills and Chargers are at .492 and .462 respectively. The Bills are certainly catchable, while the Chargers may be out of grasp. We won’t go into the specifics into increasing their strength of schedule, but the Lions absolutely need these things to happen in order to stay at 18th or go up a spot or two:

The Lions need those first three to happen in order to make sure they don’t finish with a better record than any of those other 8-7 teams. Meanwhile, Seattle and Tennessee wins ensure they finish 10-6. Both a 9-7 Seahawks and Titans team would currently jump a Lions 9-7 team based on a weaker strength of schedule.

The best case scenario with a Lions win is probably the 17th pick. The worst case scenario is 20th.

If the Lions lose

The outlook is obviously much brighter with a Lions loss to the Packers. They would almost certainly jump Green Bay immediately thanks to a tougher schedule for the Packers (.538). But they could realistically catch all three 7-8 teams right now. Arizona (.488), and Washington (.538) are certainly within striking distance of Detroit (.496).

So here’s what the rooting guide would look like given a Lions win:

  • Cardinals over Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET - FOX)
  • Washington over Giants (1 p.m. ET - FOX)
  • Chargers over Raiders (4:25 p.m. ET - CBS)
  • Bills over Dolphins (4:25 p.m. ET - CBS)
  • Dallas over Eagles (1 p.m. ET - FOX)
  • Titans over Jaguars (4:25 p.m. ET - CBS)

Again, the first two games listed would bump their records to match the Lions’ at 8-8. While the other four games would ensure that the other current 8-7 teams don’t fall and potentially catch Detroit with strength of schedule.

If the Lions lose, it’s highly unlikely they’d pick anywhere lower than 18th. If all things fall their way, however, they could potentially pick 13th.