It’s another Detroit Lions-less Sunday, which means you can sit back, relax, and watch some football without having an emotional breakdown. Sit by the fire, get that weighted blanket on, and just enjoy football for the game that it is. That is, unless you’re a degenerate gambler and/or fantasy football player. If that’s the case, no Sundays off.
Anyway, with the Lions’ 10th loss of the season, they’re in a commanding lead to come away with the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. And with two of their closest competitors facing off in Week 12, they’re only going to extend that lead over a team or two on Sunday.
Of course, that’s not the only pick we need to track. The Lions hold the Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick this year (and next), so with our Week 12 Rooting Guide, we’ll also be tracking the best possible outcomes to tank the Rams and improve their draft position.
Rooting guide for Lions’ pick
Note: We’re only going to talk about the five teams with three or fewer wins. It seem highly unlikely the Lions will catch a four-win team at this point.
Jets (2-8) at Texans (2-8) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
This is the marquee matchup for the Lions. Interestingly enough, all three two-win teams (Jets, Texans, Jaguars) will eventually play each other this year. The Jets and Texans get it out of the way now, and who you root for depends on who you think is the worse team. By both DVOA and point differential, it’s the Jets.
Root for: Really, any outcome other than a tie is good for the Lions, but root for the Jets
Falcons (4-6) at Jaguars (2-8) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
The Falcons are actually the worst team in the NFL per DVOA, and three of their four wins have come on last-second field goals. So there’s a real chance the Jaguars pull off the upset here, which would be huge for Detroit.
Root for: The Jaguars
Eagles (5-6) at Giants (3-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
NFC East is always unpredictable, but this is an easy choice for Detroit.
Root for: The Giants
Seahawks (3-7) vs. WFT (4-6) — 8:15 p.m. ET Monday — ESPN
It’s hard to believe the Seahawks are really 3-7, but they are and it’s well deserved. The Seahawks are actually favored in this game, which is good, because…
Root for: The Seahawks
If all these outcomes go in Detroit’s way, here’s how the top of the draft order would look after Week 12:
- Lions (0-10-1)
- Texans (2-9)
- Jets (3-8)
- Jaguars (3-8)
- A bunch of 4 win teams
Detroit would have a 1.5 win cushion over the Texans and a 2.5 win cushion over the Jets and Jaguars. The Texans would still have winnable games over the Seahawks and Jaguars to pick up more wins, too
Rooting guide for Rams’ pick
The first priority for the Rams’ pick is to ensure they don’t win the division so that they have to go on the road in the first round of the playoffs, but with the NFC West leader—the Arizona Cardinals—currently on bye, there’s not much to root for there.
So, instead, let’s root for the very unlikely outcome of LA missing the playoffs entirely. Currently, their playoff odds are 83.4 percent per Football Outsiders, but let’s dream.
The one where you root for the Rams to lose
Rams (7-3) vs. Packers (8-3) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX
Oh god, I’m sorry.
Root for: The Packers
Vikings (5-5) vs. 49ers (5-5) — 4:25 p.m. ET — FOX
This is a tricky one, because both teams are currently holding the Wild Card playoff spots behind the Rams, and Detroit would love both teams to go on a winning streak and potentially threaten a Rams playoff position—or at least worsen their seeding. The Rams actually will still play both teams this year, but the 49ers currently hold the tiebreaker with a head-to-head win over LA.
Root for: Again, either outcome is fine, but a slight edge to the 49ers
Eagles (5-6) at Giants (3-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
The Eagles are streaking, winning three of their last four games. They’ve got an incredibly favorable schedule (Giants, Jets, WFT, Giants, WFT, Cowboys), so they could definitely make a run. Let’s hope it starts today—unless you’re afraid of the Lions catching the Giants.
Root for: The Eagles
Panthers (5-6) at Dolphins (4-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Carolina is one of the more inconsistent teams in the league, but with Cam Newton back, there does seem to be some optimism. Unfortunately, their schedule is daunting, with a game against the Bills and two games against the Bucs still ahead. But if they can take care of business with the Dolphins and Falcons in the next two weeks, maybe they can build some confidence.
Root for: The Panthers
Buccaneers (7-3) at Colts (6-5) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
This one likely only matters for seeding, as Tampa is the overwhelming favorite to win the NFC South. But in case the Rams do emerge as NFC West champs, the lower the seed, the better.
Root for: The Bucs
Here’s what the NFC playoff picture would look like with these outcomes:
- Cardinals (9-2)
- Packers (9-3)
- Buccaneers (8-3)
- Cowboys (7-4)
- Rams (7-4)
- 49ers (6-5)
- Eagles (6-6)
- Panthers (6-6)
- Vikings (5-6)
The Rams would still hold that fifth seed, but they’d only be 1.5 games out of missing the playoff entirely. Remember, if the Rams make the playoffs, they will be picking anywhere between 19 and 32, depending on when/if they get eliminated. If the Rams somehow miss out on the playoffs, that pick becomes no later than 18.