The Race for the Number One Pick—Can the Lions Hold On?
After 14 weeks, it's no secret that the Lions and their fans are ready to pack it in and look toward next season. The Lions are currently 1-11-1 and have been eliminated from playoff contention. Their extremely unlikely path to the postseason came to an end after a loss to the Broncos.
Before the 2022 season starts, everyone is going to look toward the 2022 NFL Draft coming in April. Currently, the Lions are holding on to that number one pick. However, two teams are on their heels. Now the Lions are more than likely picking in the top five regardless of how the rest of the season plays out. ESPN projects the Lions have a 99.3% chance at a top-five pick and a 53% chance at the number one pick.
It feels wrong to suggest losing, but the top prospects in this draft are worth maybe losing games over. Now the Lions' path to the first overall pick is easy: don't win again. Which, based on their performance and schedule, feels like a safe bet. However, some teams can catch them. Say the Lions win against Green Bay because the Packers have nothing to play for (win against the Ravens wraps up the division for them, but they are still gunning for that one seed). Here are the potential teams that could swoop in and take the number pick from the Lions is for some reason the Lions start winning here at the very end.
The teams on the heels of the Lions are the Texans and the Jaguars. Like the Lions, all three of those teams have over a 90% chance at a top-five pick. When it comes to the draft order, some tiebreakers apply to teams having the same record. The first is head to head, then win-loss percentage in common games, and after that, it's strength of victory. If all of those fail, it goes to the team with the best points scored and points allowed. Since none of those teams has played each other, you would have to look at common games. The only common games they have are against NFC West opponents. Which are the Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, and Cardinals. The problem there is no one listed above has beat one of them. Now the Lions still have the Cardinals and Seahawks. However, defeating them would knock them out of the first spot anyway.
It is getting down to being very technical for something that hinges on one more Lions win. If that does happen, it will more than likely come down to points. As it stands, the Jaguars and Texans have allowed more points and scored less than the Lions. That would mean a Lions win would make one of those two if not both jump the Lions. Again, this all hinges on a big what-if, which is the Lions winning again. That could happen, but let's be real, it probably won't. Also, the Jaguars and Texans have to play each other again and one of them has to win right? A tie would make things awkward and complicated.
A lot of this is a big what-if. Quite frankly, a lot has to happen for the Lions to lose the number one pick. It is just crazy to think after taking 13 weeks to get a single win that it's not a lock. Whatever chaos the last four weeks will bring, Lions fans are yet again on the bottom. On the plus side, Aidan Hutchison and Keyvon Thibodeaux are dynamic defensive players that are entering the draft this year and would be great picks for the Lions.