For Detroit Lions players, Sunday was likely a heartbreaking loss. After a huge defensive play from Jalen Reeves-Maybin, the Lions were in a prime position to steal a game from the Atlanta Falcons. However, an ill-timed interception from backup quarterback Tim Boyle when Detroit was just 9 yards away from the game-winning score doomed the Lions to their 12th loss of the season instead of their third win in four games.
Lions fans may have had a different experience, though. The Lions are continuing to show serious improvement—which should be the team’s primary goal in a lost season. Additionally, the Lions’ loss, combined with a couple of other key games in Week 16, drastically improved Detroit’s chances at a top-tier draft pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Most notably, the Lions are now guaranteed to have a top-five draft pick, and they’re pretty darn close to clinching a top-two pick.
Here’s a look at the current 2022 NFL Draft order through 16 weeks—not including “Monday Night Football.”
Note: Strength of schedule is courtesy of Tankathon and represents each team’s full 17-game schedule, not just games played.
- Jaguars: 2-13 (.520 strength of schedule)
- Lions: 2-12-1 (.531)
- Texans: 4-11 (.492)
- Jets: 4-11 (.512)
- Giants: 4-11 (.542)
- Panthers: 5-10 (.512)
- Seahawks (owned by Jets): 5-10 (.514)
- Bears (owned by Giants): 5-10 (.516)
- Falcons: 7-8 (.462)
- Broncos: 7-8 (.482)
- Vikings: 7-8 (.502)
- Browns: 7-8 (.520)
- Football Team: 7-8 (.532)
Now let’s take a closer look at the Lions’ pick.
Guaranteed top-five pick
With only two games left, the Lions’ best possible record is 4-12-1, which means every team with five or more wins is now uncatchable. There are only four other teams that haven’t won at least five games, meaning Detroit is locked into the top five. They cannot pick any lower.
Can clinch top-two pick with one more loss
With the Texans’ win on Sunday, the race for the top pick is pretty much a two-team race. With the three, four, and five spots being occupied by four-win teams, the Lions can only catch them if they win out and the other teams lose out. Let’s look at the remaining schedules of the Lions and the four-win teams:
The Texans and Jets are probably done winning, but the Giants could possibly pick up a win or two.
That said, it seems unlikely the Lions win both of their remaining games. They’re currently over a touchdown underdog to the Seahawks this week and the Packers will likely be playing for a first-round bye in Week 18.
If Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux are your top two guys, you can pretty much guarantee the Lions will get one.
Don’t expect the Lions to get the first overall pick
Jacksonville, with their incredible last-second loss to the Jets, continue to hold onto the first overall pick, and looking at their schedule, they seem unlikely to give that up:
Week 17 at Patriots (9-6)
Week 18 vs. Colts (9-6)
Simply put, if the Jaguars lose both of those games, they keep the first overall pick. That being said, all it would take is a single win for the door to be open for Detroit to take it back. Just don’t expect it to happen.