The Detroit Lions are back from their bye week, and it’s a mixture of good news, bad news for the team as they return to play. Good news: The NFC North looks pretty bad, despite the Minnesota Vikings being one of four teams in the NFL with one or zero losses. The Green Bay Packers are a mess and the Chicago Bears are as advertised. Even the Vikings seem to be riding a bit of a lucky streak, barely edging out wins week after week.
More good news: Those of you who aren’t even thinking about divisional standings and have already started to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft, Detroit’s draft position improved over the weekend, too. Last week, the Lions were one of six teams with just a single win. That number of single-win teams dropped significantly on Sunday.
But here comes the bad news. The Los Angeles Rams—the source of the Lions’ other first-round pick—won on Sunday, so their place in the draft order plummeted nearly 10 spots.
Let’s break it down in our 2023 NFL Draft pick watch.
Note: Remember tiebreakers are decided by strength of schedule. Tankathon uses the full 17-game schedule to calculate strength of schedule, not just games played thus far.
Lions’ pick: Third overall (up 1)
After wins by the Washington Commanders and Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6, just four one-win teams remain: the Panthers (1-5), Raiders (1-4), Lions (1-4), and Texans (1-3-1). The Panthers occupy the top spot as the only team with five losses in the league, while Houston is slotted in fourth because of their tie. The Raiders are currently ranked above the Lions in draft order because their overall strength of schedule (.479) is much easier than Detroit’s.
However, the Lions could easily climb into the top two in a hurry, as the Raiders and Texans play this week, while Detroit has a tough matchup against the Cowboys in Dallas.
Next game: at Dallas (4-2)
Rams’ pick: 22nd overall (down 9)
The Rams finally righted the ship after a two-game skid where nothing was going right. Of course, their win this week came against the league’s worst team in the Carolina Panthers, and it wasn’t exactly a convincing win. They actually trailed at halftime, but after holding Carolina scoreless in the second half and causing the Panthers sideline to throw one of their own players out of the game (and have him subsequently traded to Arizona), the Rams went on to win somewhat comfortably.
Believe it or not, but the 3-3 Rams now occupy the third Wild Card spot in a very weak NFC—which is why their pick has dropped so much this week. There are five other teams in the NFC (Buccaneers, 49ers, Packers, Falcons, Seahawks) with the same record, but Los Angeles jumps the rest of them thanks to a 3-2 in-conference record.
The Rams are currently on their bye week, but their schedule really heats up in a hurry. Their next five games include the 49ers (3-3), Buccaneers (3-3), Cardinals (2-4), Saints (2-4) and Chiefs (4-2). That’s not exactly a gauntlet, but it should be an increase in difficulty from their three wins (Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals). It won’t help that their offensive line—which has been one of the worst in football—will be missing its left tackle for the rest of the season, as Joe Noteboom tore his Achilles on Sunday.
Next week: Bye — Next game: vs. 49ers (3-3)