The Detroit Lions have a late game on Sunday, which means we can all put on our rooting hat for the 1 p.m. ET games with an eye on draft position. After last week’s win the Lions’ firm grasp on the No. 1 overall pick is starting to slip. Their chances at that top pick went from 77 percent probability to 50, according to Football Outsiders.
But with the Lions hurting and some of the other bad teams in the NFL with a legitimate shot at a win this week, the Lions can once again tighten the screws around the first overall pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Now that we’re 13 weeks into the NFL season, there are really only four teams with a realistic chance at earning that first pick overall, so those are the only teams we’ll be focusing on when it comes to the Lions’ top pick. But as I’m sure you remember, the Lions also have the first-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams. So with our Week 14 rooting guide, we’ll also be taking a close look at the best possible outcomes to improve that draft pick, as well.
Let’s get to it.
We are just going to deal with teams who have three or fewer wins. It seems unlikely the Lions win three of their last five games.
Jaguars (2-10) vs. Titans (8-4) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
Root for: Jaguars
Obvious one, and while it seems like a longshot, the Titans have lost to the Jets and Texans this year, so... maybe?
Saints (5-7) vs. Jets (3-9) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
Root for: Jets
A Jets win would almost guarantee they finish below Detroit in the draft order. The Saints have lost five straight, so this may be more possible than it looks.
Seahawks (4-8) vs. Texans (2-10) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Root for: Texans
Seattle has lost six of their last eight, but they just picked up a surprising win over the 49ers. The Texans are at home, though, so keep your hopes up.
If all of these three outcomes go the right way and the Lions lose to the Broncos, here’s what the top of the draft order would look like:
- Lions: 1-11-1
- Jaguars: 3-10
- Texans: 3-10
- Jets: 4-9
The Lions would hold a 1.5 win lead over the Jaguars and Texans. And with those two teams facing off against each other next week, the Lions would be pretty darn close to clinching at least a top-two pick.
Rams (8-4) vs. Cardinals (10-2) — 8:15 p.m. MONDAY — ESPN
Who to root for: Cardinals
This is a huge game when it comes to the Rams’ pick. If the Cardinals win, not only will that give them a three-game lead over Los Angeles for the NFC West with only four weeks left, but it will also give them the series sweep and the tiebreaker. They don’t mathematically clinch the division with a win, but it would take an epic collapse for them to lose it.
If the Rams win, however, suddenly the Cardinals’ NFC West lead is down to one.
Cowboys (8-4) vs. Football Team (6-6) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: WFT
With the Rams’ most likely path to the playoffs through the Wild Card, we care less about seeding among division winners and more about seeding through the Wild Card. Washington could come within a game of the Rams with an LA loss and a Washington win.
Falcons (5-7) vs. Panthers (5-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Who to root for: Falcons (but really a toss-up)
Both of these teams aren’t very good, but if we want to get greedy and pretend like the Rams have a legitimate chance to fall out of the playoffs completely, one of these teams may have to make a run. The Panthers have the tougher schedule ahead (Bills + Bucs twice), so I guess root for the Falcons to somehow go on a run vs: Panthers, 49ers, Lions, Bills, Saints.
49ers (6-6) vs. Bengals (7-5) — 4:25 p.m. ET — CBS
Who to root for: 49ers
The 49ers currently hold a Wild Card spot, and if they keep winning, they can make the Rams’ life hell by pushing their seeding down.
Here’s what the NFC playoff picture would like if all these outcomes break this way
Note: I gave wins to the Packers and Bucs, too, just in case division winner seedings end up mattering.
- Cardinals: 11-2
- Packers: 10-3
- Buccaneers: 10-3
- Cowboys: 8-5
- Rams: 8-5
- WFT: 7-6
- 49ers: 7-6
- Vikings: 6-7
- Eagles: 6-7
- Falcons: 6-7
- Saints: 6-7
As you can see, even with all of these games breaking in the Lions’ favor, the Rams still have a two-game lead over the Wild Card contenders on the outside looking in. However, they would be in danger here of dropping a seed or two—which could mean facing the Packers or Bucs instead of the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.