The Patriots are at that point in the season now where fans and members of the media are discussing whether or not it would be best for the team to win or lose the rest of the season. Because they hold a 2-8 record through 11 weeks, they are projected to have the third overall selection in the 2024 NFL draft, which is also the highest they have been in the first round since drafting Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
Since their postseason hopes have been shattered for weeks now, some believe it's best if they lose out on the final seven games to attain the highest draft pick possible. Considering they need some of the most critical positions improved from free agency and via the draft, the higher they pick, the better their chances are at securing a franchise quarterback or the game-changing wide receiver they've been hoping for over the last several years.
It has become a topic discussed even more as the Patriots face a team that could move ahead of them after their Week 12 matchup, the Giants. Because New York is yet to take their bye week, they hold a slightly better record than New England before Sunday's game.
Since they're neck and neck at this point, a lot rides on who comes out the victor and who walks out the loser, which both teams may care about more than usual.
The Giants and Patriots are in similar situations regarding their coaching staff and rosters. They're unsure about their young quarterbacks (despite New York giving Daniel Jones a massive extension last year) and clearly don't have a spectacular offensive roster.
Then there's the question about whether the right head coach is in place. The job security of Bill Belichick has remained a debate all season long, while Brian Dabboll may find himself a bit in the hot seat with the Giants falling flat just one year after they made the playoffs.
Because of this, both teams may be more motivated to lose the Stupor Bowl of Week 12.
It would never be something either would admit, but when draft placement is on the line, it's not out of line to consider a team not feeling heartbroken over a loss that benefits them more than had they won. It seems complicated to believe Belichick, of all people, would be willing to do this, and he likely won't show any indication that is his plan. However, wouldn't a better draft position be a great way to head into the offseason?
The statistics prove that the Patriots' chances of landing a top-2 pick would dramatically increase with a loss to the Giants this week, as shown by Seth Walder, an ESPN sports analytics writer on Twitter/X.
A 29% increase to hold a coveted position in the draft may be all the Patriots need to lose what would otherwise be a very winnable game.
But will that really change the way Belichick approaches this game?
Although that may be what the fans want and what many believe is the best route for the team to take, it's hard to imagine the entire team signing off on purposely losing a game with basically all their jobs on the line, especially Mac Jones.
At the end of the day, the higher draft position only benefits the organization and not a single player, meaning it provides no benefit for the roster to agree to tank the rest of the season intentionally. It will be interesting to see how the game unfolds, though, because it should be relatively easy for them to win.