They say that winning cures all in the NFL, and I find that to be true in most instances. But the one area that is demonstrably false in is the NFL Draft.
The Detroit Lions picked up their first win of the season on Sunday, and you’d be hard pressed to find a Lions fan that, in that moment, was upset about it. The first win of the Dan Campbell era is a huge mark for this team. It was emotional, and it could very well be ground-breaking for a team that was just looking to get over the damn hump.
But the downside to the win is that Detroit’s grasp on the first overall pick—which seemed to be nearly a done deal going into Week 13—is far from guaranteed now. After the past two weeks of fawning over Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson by Lions fans, suddenly it feels like he may be slipping through the Lions’ fingers.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2022 NFL Draft order to see just how loose Detroit’s grasp is on that top pick.
- Lions: 1-10-1 (.529 strength of schedule)
- Jaguars: 2-10 (.505)
- Texans: 2-10 (.505)
- Jets: 3-9 (.505)
- Seahawks (owned by Jets): 4-8 (.507)
- Bears (owned by Giants): 4-8 (.517)
- Giants: 4-8 (.527)
- Falcons: 5-7 (.466)
- Panthers: 5-7 (.502)
- Vikings: 5-7 (.512)
- Saints: 5-7 (.522)
In our Week 13 rooting guide, the Lions only got one of the desired results for their first overall pick: the Seahawks beat the 49ers—and that came with some downside, as well (more on that later). Now, the Lions are just one win away from potentially dropping out of the top two entirely.
In fact, the Lions’ odds at landing the top pick in the draft plummeted from around 77 percent last week to just 50.3 percent, according to Football Outsiders. The good news is that their odds of a top-five pick remain 98.7 percent.
Obviously, the three teams in closest contention for the top pick are the Jaguars, Texans and Lions. Let’s take a look at each team’s remaining schedule:
Lions remaining games:
- @ Broncos (6-6)
- vs. Cardinals (10-2)
- @ Falcons (5-7)
- @ Seahawks (4-8)
- vs. Packers (9-3)
That’s three teams with a record of .500 or lower, but all three come on the road—including two west coast trips.
Jaguars remaining games:
- @ Titans (8-4)
- vs. Texans (2-10)
- @ Jets (3-9)
- @ Patriots (9-4)
- vs. Colts (7-6)
That’s only two games against teams .500 or worse, but the Jets and Texans are two of the worst teams in the NFL and present real opportunities for wins.
Texans remaining games:
- vs. Seahawks (4-8)
- @ Jaguars (2-10)
- vs. Chargers (7-5)
- @ 49ers (6-6)
- vs. Titans (8-4)
The Texans have three remaining games against team .500 or worse, but with those final three games against teams in current playoff positions, the next two weeks really present the best opportunity for wins for Houston.
Let’s take a look at the overall NFC playoff standings to see where Los Angeles’ pick may land:
- Cardinals (10-2)
- Packers (9-3)
- Buccaneers (9-3)
- Cowboys (8-4)
- Rams (8-4)
- WFT (6-6)
- 49ers (6-6)
- Eagles (6-7)
- 4 teams (Vikings, Panthers, Falcons, Saints) at 5-7
Week 13 was a particularly bad week if you were hoping the Rams would fall out of the playoff race. The Falcons, Vikings, 49ers, and Saints all lost. Really, the only positive results were wins by the Washington Football Team and the Eagles.
At this point, it seems unrealistic to expect the Rams to fall out of the playoff race. Football Outsiders has their playoff odds at 92 percent, up over seven percent from last week. The good news here is that the Cardinals continue to win. If they hold onto their NFC West lead, the Rams will be forced to go on the road in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
However, the Rams and Cardinals face off against each other on Monday Night Football this week. A win by Arizona would nearly clinch the top spot in the West, giving them a three-game lead PLUS the tiebreaker over LA after sweeping the Rams. That’s essentially a four-game lead with five weeks left. But if the Rams win, they’re suddenly just a game behind the division lead.