Zach Wilson, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Draft Picks
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Rooting guide for New York Jets fans who want the draft tiebreaker over Houston Texans

The New York Jets won their Week 16 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars while the Houston Texans won their game against the Los Angeles Chargers. That leaves the two teams in a tie for the third overall slot in the 2022 NFL draft, but Houston currently owns the tiebreaker over New York.

Here is how the top of the draft looks:

  1. Jacksonville (2-13, .522 SOS)
  2. Detroit (2-12-1, .531 SOS)
  3. Houston (4-11, .494 SOS)
  4. NY Jets (4-11, .514 SOS)
  5. NY Giants (4-11, .541 SOS)
  6. NY Jets via Seattle (5-10, .510 SOS)
  7. Carolina (5-10, .510 SOS)
  8. NY Giants via Chicago (5-10, .516 SOS)
  9. Washington (6-9, .533 SOS)
  10. Atlanta (7-8, .461 SOS)

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The first tiebreaker used to break any ties in the draft order is strength of schedule (SOS), which gets the job done for the vast majority of ties. Teams would proceed to traditional intra-division, intra-conference, or interconference tiebreaking procedures if they are tied in SOS, but an SOS tie is rare.

Houston’s SOS currently sits at .494 with a combined opponent record of 126-129, while New York’s SOS sits at .514 with a combined opponent record of 131-124.

SOS is calculated by combining the records of all 17 opponents on a team’s schedule – so, yes, division opponents are counted twice.

It is also worth mentioning that the SOS mark listed on the popular site Tankathon includes the records of all 17 teams on a team, not just the teams that each team has played thus far. So, the number displayed is accurate as to what matters for the eventual tiebreaking process. It does not change each week based on the next opponent a team plays – it changes based on the results of every game played by an opponent on a team’s schedule.

If the Jets want to steal the tiebreaker from the Texans and pass them in the draft order in the event that the two teams finish the season with the same record, they have to make up significant ground in the SOS race by getting specific results to fall their way across the NFL over these next two weeks.

Since Houston owns a 5.0-game edge on the Jets as it pertains to SOS, the Jets need to “win” a sizable number of the matchups over the next two weeks that affect this race.

Aside from the Jets and Texans’ own games, there are 16 games remaining that will have an effect on the SOS disparity between New York. Eleven of those will be played this week.

These are the results that Jets fans will want to see if their goal is to catch Houston in the SOS race.

Week 17

Wins by each bolded team would get the Jets’ SOS closer to Houston’s. If the bolded teams lose, Houston’s SOS lead grows. The Jets do not need all of these games to go their way, but they do need the vast majority of them.

Listed alongside each matchup is the impact of the result – the number of games the Jets will gain or lose on Houston based on the result. The Jets will gain or lose either a half-game (0.5) or a full game (1.0) on Houston in the SOS standings with each result. So, matchups worth a full game are more important (we’ll refer to these as the “key games”, which are marked with an asterisk).

  • KC over @CIN (0.5)
  • @TEN over MIA (1.0)*
  • @IND over LV (0.5)
  • JAX over @NE (1.0)*
  • @WAS over PHI (0.5)
  • LAR over @BAL (0.5)
  • CAR over @NO (0.5)
  • @LAC over DEN (1.0)*
  • ARI over @DAL (0.5)
  • @SEA over DET (0.5)
  • CLE over @PIT (0.5)

Week 18

  • @CLE over CIN (1.0)*
  • DAL over @PHI (0.5)
  • CAR over @TB (0.5)
  • KC over @DEN (0.5)
  • LAC over @LV (0.5)

The Jets need a cumulative total of plus-6.0 out of those 16 games to take the SOS tiebreaker from Houston (remember, they lose the listed number of games if the matchup does not go their way).

If the Jets get a plus-5.0, they would tie the Texans in SOS and the tiebreaker would come down to the traditional intra-conference wild card tiebreaking procedure, but the first tiebreaker in that scenario would be head-to-head winning percentage, in which the Texans would lose and take the higher pick since the Jets defeated them earlier in the year.

So, the Jets have to get the outright lower SOS to win the tiebreaker over Houston. To do that, they need to gain 6.0 games on the Texans over two weeks with only 16 matchups on the schedule that can help them.

That is a tall order. For example, say the Jets get all four of the key games (those worth 1.0 full game). Even then, the maximum number of the 12 half-game-worth matchups they could lose is four; they’d still need at least a 12-4 overall record in the above 16 matchups to gain the minimum six games needed.

If the Jets lose even one of the key games, the maximum number of half-game-worth matchups they could lose is two; they’d need at least a 13-3 overall record.

Now, if the Jets lose two key games, they cannot afford to lose a single one of the other 12 matchups. They’d need a 14-2 overall record.

The Jets need to get at least two out of the four key games to have a chance. If they lose three of them, they’re toast even if they win every other matchup.

So, here’s the simple map:

  • The Jets need at least two of these results: W17 Titans over Dolphins, W17 Jaguars over Patriots, W17 Chargers over Broncos, and W18 Browns over Bengals
  • If Jets get two of four, they need a record of 12-0 in the other 12 matchups listed above
  • If Jets get three of four, they need a record of at least 10-2 in the other 12 matchups listed above
  • If Jets get all four, they need a record of at least 8-4 in the other 12 matchups listed above

It’s a very unlikely scenario, but it’s not completely impossible … I mean, I guess it’s not completely impossible. But it’s not that far off from it.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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1 year ago

Texans need to go QB they can’t go into this draft and not draft one same with the Lions need a QB… I think Theo is the best pass rusher in this draft but i honestly want Neal and Ham in this draft that is my plan. Fant is solid but he is not long term and i’m not sure of Becton is neither