“Thursday Night Football” was a tough watch for Detroit Lions fans. Besides it being an extremely boring game for 3.5 quarters, it ended in dramatic, heart-breaking fashion. Lions fans were hoping to see the Los Angeles Rams drop their seventh game in a row, and with the Raiders up 13 points with under five minutes left, that seemed all but inevitable.
But then Baker Mayfield eventually led a 98-yard game winning drive in just 1:35—with no timeouts in his pocket. While Mayfield deserves a ton of credit for a gutsy drive, the final plays of the game were as much defined by the Raiders’ incompetence, including a critical personal foul penalty that erased a sack and stopped a running clock.
It was devastating for Lions fans, but in the end, it actually didn’t end up hurting their draft stock too much (yet).
Here’s a look at the current 2023 NFL Draft order, with just four weeks in the regular season remaining.
- Texans: 1-11-1 (.502 strength of schedule)
- Seahawks (via Broncos): 3-10 (.484)
- Bears: 3-10 (.572)
- Lions (via Rams): 4-9 (.498)
- Eagles (via Saints): 4-9 (.502)
- Cardinals: 4-9 (.516)
- Colts: 4-8-1 (.502)
- Raiders: 5-8 (.443)
- Panthers: 5-8 (.446)
- Falcons: 5-8 (.450)
- Jaguars: 5-8 (.498)
- Texans (via Browns): 5-8 (.516)
- Steelers: 5-8 (.541)
- Packers: 5-8 (.561)
- Lions: 6-7 (.462)
On the surface, the Rams’ victory didn’t hurt the Lions draft pick much. In fact, it didn’t hurt it at all. The Lions pick was in the fourth spot last week. However, because there are so many 5-8 teams, even one more win from the Rams could push them all the way down to 10th. The Raiders, Panthers, Falcons and Jaguars are all threats to jump the Rams/Lions pick; not only are they bad teams, but the strength of schedule for those teams are currently weaker than Los Angeles’, meaning they’ll hold the tiebreaker (weaker is better for higher draft position) if they finish with the same record.
Week 14 was also a missed opportunity for the pick to jump up one spot. With the Bears on bye, a loss would’ve moved the Rams to the same 3-10 record, and Los Angeles has the clear tiebreaker here.
So what does the future hold for the Rams in these final four games. Can Mayfield get the Rams on a streak here? Los Angeles may have nothing to play for in terms of playoff contention, but if you watched Thursday’s game, that win clearly meant a lot to a team that has been through much. Let’s take a look at their remaining schedule:
- at Packers (5-8)
- vs. Broncos (3-10)
- at Chargers (7-6)
- at Seahawks (7-6)
None of these teams are truly scary, but the Chargers and Seahawks will likely be fighting for playoff spots when the Rams face them. Additionally, playing in Lambeau is never easy, and the Packers are not quite mathematically eliminated. The Christmas Day matchup with the Broncos is the most critical game on the Rams’ schedule for the Lions’ draft pick position, though. A loss not only sinks the Rams’ record, but it would give a Broncos a much-needed win. With Russell Wilson in concussion protocol, it’s unclear if they’ll have him available in a couple of weeks.
Here’s the good news: among the group of 5-8 teams, there are some that could realistically stack some Ws down the stretch. The Falcons and Panthers are somehow still very much in the NFC South race, and will be motivated to win. The Jaguars are playing really good football right now (Week 13 notwithstanding) and just destroyed the Titans. The Browns have Deshaun Watson back, and the Steelers have won three of their last five.
Even if the Rams get another win or two, there’s a good chance this pick remains in the top 10. While that may be disappointing given how close this team looked to giving Detroit a top-three pick, we have to remember that when this trade was made, no one expected either of the first rounders given to Detroit would be anywhere near the top 10.