Before the start of Week 16, the Patriots had been holding onto the second overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, a coveted spot they hadn't been anywhere near attaining in over 30 years. Although having another losing season isn't what anyone was hoping for, being in the top selections in the draft couldn't have come at a better time, as the team clearly needs a massive tear down and redo.
Their hopes of staying at the top of the board strengthened due to the Thursday Night game between the Rams and the Saints, which was exciting news for fans who have shifted their focus to the draft to alleviate the disappointment of how the team has fared this year.
Unfortunately, that desire to remain in the top 2 only lasted until the Patriots took on the Broncos on Sunday Night. Because the Cardinals, Commanders, and Panthers lost, they had already slipped to the third pick. That left the possibility of moving back up again open, but their win over Denver essentially negates that entirely.
Given the massive gap in their strength of schedule with the Cardinals and the unlikelihood of the Commanders walking out the victors against the 49ers and Cowboys, it looks safe to say the Patriots will not reach higher than the fourth overall pick.
Considering where they have generally picked over the last 20 years, choosing in the top 5 isn't exactly a bad fate. However, many have had their eyes set on the second selection, even more so on Drake Maye or Marvin Harrison Jr., who will likely be gone by the time they are on the clock.
Their chances of remaining at pick four would increase if they lose their final two games, at Buffalo and against the Jets. But is there anyone out there who honestly believes Bill Belichick won't do whatever it takes to ensure a win over the Jets?
If they split those games, they'll have to hope the Giants, Chargers, or Titans win another game as well, or they'll be competing with them and their SOS to stay in the top five, which is not the most comfortable of situations when you are a team in need of drafting a franchise quarterback.
It gives more reason to pay attention to the end of the season for Patriots fans, who would likely ordinarily not care too much at this point since they've been eliminated from the playoffs. But instead of stressing over making it to the Super Bowl, we'll now be anxious about where they'll end up in the draft.