Heading into their Week 18 matchup with the Jets on Sunday, the Patriots currently hold the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. For much of the season, they held steady with pick no. 2, but after winning two games over the last month, their positioning fell much to the fans' disappointment.
The good thing is there is still a chance they can move back into that coveted spot based on the results of the final week of the regular season. But they remain very much in charge of their fate. But so are a few other teams, which is never a good scenario.
With this in mind, Peter Schrager asked analytical expert Steve Kornacki to break down how the Patriots could move back up in the draft, going over all the tiebreakers and who the fans should be rooting for this weekend.
In short, the easiest way for it to happen is for New England to lose to the Jets. The problem is that it is almost certainly not going to happen. Whether it's Bill Belichick's final game as the head coach or not, nobody likes to stick it to the Jets more than him. So he will do all that he can to coach the team to walk out with a win.
But if they hope to reach that number two seed, losing is the only way to ensure they get there. On top of that, they'll also need to hope for the Commanders to beat the Cowboys and the Cardinals to beat the Seahawks.
Another scenario with the Patriots taking another loss would be the Falcons beating the Saints, and then two of the following happen as well;
- Bears win vs. Packers
- Broncos win vs. Raiders
- Ravens win vs. Steelers
- Texans win vs. Colts
Breaking it down even further, Dakota Randall of NESN mapped out nearly every possible scenario from the results of Week 18 and how that would impact the Patriots chances of attaining the highest draft positioning.
These are the most important takeaways:
- The Patriots are guaranteed to win an SOS tiebreaker over Arizona, which will host the Seattle Seahawks in Week 18.
- The SOS gap between New England and Washington, which will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, is negligible. The Patriots absolutely could finish ahead of the Commanders if the two teams finish with the same record.
- The second and third draft-order tiebreakers are divisional and conference records. If those don’t apply, it goes to head-to-head, which New England owns over the Commanders, Giants and Chargers.
- As for the Chargers and Titans, New England has a solid SOS edge over both teams. However, it wouldn’t take much for those gaps to close. Again, none of that will matter if the Patriots simply lose to the Jets.
So basically, Patriots fans will deal with a lot less stress if the team loses to the Jets. But if that's not the case, as most predict it won't be, hoping every opponent they've faced this season loses in Week 18 is the next best thing.