How high, how low can New York Jets’ draft picks go in Week 18?
As we enter the final week of the 2021 regular season, here is how the top of the 2021 NFL draft is stacked up:
- Jacksonville (2-14, .522 SOS)
- Detroit (2-13-1, .539 SOS)
- Houston (4-12, .496 SOS)
- NY Jets (4-12, .515 SOS)
- NY Giants (4-12, .537 SOS)
- Carolina (5-11, .507 SOS)
- NY Jets via Seattle (6-10, .518 SOS)
- NY Giants via Chicago (6-10, .520 SOS)
- Washington (6-10, .533 SOS)
- Atlanta (7-9, .461 SOS)
- Denver (7-9, .478 SOS)
- Minnesota (7-9, .513 SOS)
- Cleveland (7-9, .524 SOS)
The New York Jets have two first-round picks that could possibly fall in a combined 12 different spots depending on what happens around the NFL this week. Let’s dig into all of the scenarios.
Jets’ first-round pick
The Jets’ own first-round pick is currently situated at No. 4 overall. They are in a three-team tie for the third slot with the Texans and Giants.
This tiebreaker order is settled. Houston is guaranteed to finish with a lower SOS (strength of schedule) than the Jets and the Jets are guaranteed to finish with a lower SOS than the Giants.
In the event of a draft-order tie, the higher pick goes to the team with a weaker strength of schedule, which is the combined win percentage of all 17 opponents on a team’s schedule.
There are four different spots this selection can fall.
What happens if the Jets lose in Buffalo?
If Jets lose:
- Jets jump to #3 if Texans win (vs. Titans)
- Jets stay at #4 if Texans lose
If things play out as expected, the Texans and Jets will both lose as enormous underdogs, keeping the top of the draft order intact.
A window opens for the Jets if Houston upsets Tennessee.
The Jets need a worse record than the Texans to surpass them in the draft order since Houston owns the tiebreaker. So, the only way the Jets can get ahead of Houston is by losing in Buffalo coupled with a Texans upset win over the Titans.
Houston’s game against Tennessee will take place in the early window of the afternoon while the Jets kick off in the late afternoon, so Jets fans will know whether their team has a shot to move up in the draft order by the time kickoff arrives in Buffalo.
It’s worth noting that the Texans beat the Titans in the rivals’ first meeting, and it was a multi-score Houston win on the road in Nashville. Houston defeated the Titans by a score of 22-13 in Week 11. Since that game kicked off, the Texans are 3-4 and the Titans are 3-3.
New York cannot fall below No. 4 in the event of a loss, as they have clinched the SOS tiebreaker over the Giants, the only team who could tie the Jets (besides Houston) if they lose thsi week.
What happens if the Jets win in Buffalo?
If Jets win:
- Jets stay at #4 if Giants win (vs. Football Team) and Panthers win (at Buccaneers)
- Jets stay at #4 if Giants win, Panthers lose, and Jets win SOS tiebreaker over Panthers
- Jets fall to #5 if Giants win, Panthers lose and Panthers maintain SOS tiebreaker over Jets
- Jets fall to #5 if Giants lose and Panthers win
- Jets fall to #5 if Giants lose, Panthers lose, and Jets win SOS tiebreaker over Panthers
- Jets fall to #6 if Giants lose, Panthers lose, and Panthers maintain SOS tiebreaker over Jets
If the Jets manage to knock off the Bills on the road, things will get interesting. New York could stay put or fall all the way down to the No. 6 pick.
The SOS tiebreakers are a major factor here. While the Jets have clinched the SOS tiebreaker over the Giants – meaning the Jets will surely stay ahead of the Giants if the two teams both win or both lose this week – the Panthers currently have the SOS lead over the Jets.
However, Carolina’s lead is slim enough to where the Jets can steal possession of the tiebreaker this week. So, we can’t say for sure what would happen if the Jets won and the Panthers lost to create a tie between the two teams.
The Panthers’ schedule currently has a 138-134 record. The Jets’ schedule has a 140-132 record.
That is a measly 2.0-game edge – and, since the two teams played one another, if the Panthers lose and the Jets win to create a tie in the standings, the two teams’ schedule records would be guaranteed to move at least one game closer to one another.
So, if it gets to the point where the Jets-Panthers SOS tiebreaker matters, the Jets will have already narrowed the 2.0-game gap to 1.0 game. The Jets will need their opponents to make up just one game on Carolina’s opponents to create a tie in the SOS column.
If the two teams tie in the SOS column, the Jets will get the higher pick, as the next tiebreaker would be head-to-head record and the Panthers beat the Jets this year.
Simply put, there is a very real chance the Jets could fend off the Panthers if the two teams end up tying, despite the edge that Carolina currently has.
Here is a look at the games that will affect the SOS battle between New York and Carolina. Wins by these teams will help the Jets gain a half-game of ground while losses will benefit Carolina:
- Chiefs over @Broncos (+0.5 game to winner – NYJ gains 0.5 if KC wins, CAR gains 0.5 if DEN wins; so on and so forth for games listed below)
- Cowboys over @Eagles
- @Browns over Bengals
- @Vikings over Bears
- @Texans over Titans
- @Cardinals over Seahawks
Remember, the Jets need to make up 1.0 game on the Panthers to create an SOS tie and move the tiebreaker to the head-to-head, which they would win in regards to draft order. Since each of the above games is worth a half-game as it relates to the Jets-Panthers SOS margin, the Jets need to get at least four of the above six results to claim the tiebreaker over Carolina in the event the two teams tie.
Alright, with tiebreaker mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let’s simplify our approach to how we should look at a potential Jets win.
The Giants-Washington game will conclude before the Jets begin their game. If the Giants lose, we will know the Jets will definitely fall behind the Giants in the draft order if they beat the Bills. If the Giants win, we will know the Jets will not fall behind the Giants even if they beat the Bills.
Carolina will play at the same time as the Jets. A Panthers win would be preferred to keep them off the Jets’ backs in case the Jets win. But even if the Panthers lose and the Jets win, the SOS tiebreakers could still fall the Jets’ way.
Seahawks’ first-round pick
The Seahawks’ first-round pick currently sits at No. 7 overall. They are in a three-team tie with the Bears and Football Team for the seventh slot.
Seattle and Chicago have both clinched the SOS tiebreaker over Washington, but only 0.5 games separate the Seahawks and Bears in the SOS standings, so while Seattle is ahead right now, things could go either way if those two teams end up tying.
There are eight different spots this selection can fall. Seattle will stay in the same vicinity if it wins, but a loss opens up the possibility for a major free-fall.
What happens if the Seahawks lose in Arizona?
The Seahawks will face the Cardinals in Arizona.
If Seahawks lose:
- Seahawks jump to #6 if Panthers win (at Tampa Bay) and Seahawks win SOS tiebreaker over Panthers
- Seahawks stay at #7 if Panthers lose and Bears win (at Minnesota)
- Seahawks stay at #7 if Panthers lose, Bears lose, and Seahawks maintain SOS tiebreaker over Bears
- Seahawks stay at #7 if Panthers win, Bears lose, Panthers win SOS tiebreaker over Seahawks, and Seahawks win SOS tiebreaker over Bears
- Seahawks fall to #8 if Panthers lose, Bears lose, and Bears win SOS tiebreaker over Seahawks
- Seahawks fall to #8 if Panthers win, Bears lose, and both Panthers/Bears win SOS tiebreaker over Seahawks
Here’s the main thing you need to know: if the Seahawks win, they can fall no lower than No. 8, whereas if they win, they could potentially go all the way down to No. 13, so a Seahawks loss would be huge for the Jets.
But the nitty-gritty of how the SOS tiebreakers play out will determine whether they stay at No. 7, rise one spot, or fall one spot in the event of a loss.
The Seahawks can jump the Panthers and take the sixth pick, but they need a lot to fall their way. First, they need the Panthers to upset the Buccaneers. Then, they need all five of these specific outcomes to claim the SOS tiebreaker over Carolina:
- Colts win (@ Jaguars)
- Falcons win (vs. Saints)
- Giants win (vs. Football Team)
- Texans win (vs. Titans)
- Vikings win (vs. Bears)
If Seattle loses, Carolina wins, and all five of the above teams win, the Seahawks will win their tiebreaker over the Panthers (and the Bears) to secure the sixth overall pick.
You’d win a lot of money if you hit that parlay. It’s probably not going to happen. Expect Seattle to either stay at No. 7 or drop to No. 8 if they lose.
Here’s how the Seahawks can fall to the eighth slot if they end up in a tie with the Bears.
Seattle’s SOS lead over Chicago is a measly half-game. Seattle’s schedule has a 140-130-2 record while Chicago’s has a 140-129-3 record. With that in mind, this is anybody’s race to win.
There are seven games this week that will have an impact on the SOS disparity between Seattle and Chicago. Here are those games and the victors Jets fans should root for if they want Seattle to maintain its SOS lead over Chicago:
- @Browns over Bengals (+0.5 game to winner – SEA gains 0.5 if CLE wins, CHI gains 0.5 if CIN wins; so on and so forth for games listed below)
- @Giants over Football Team (+1.0 game to winner)
- @Ravens over Steelers (+0.5 game to winner)
- @Texans over Titans (+0.5 game to winner)
- @Falcons over Saints (+0.5 game to winner)
- @Buccaneers over Panthers (+0.5 game to winner)
- @Raiders over Chargers (+0.5 game to winner)
Every team the Seahawks need to win is playing at home, so that’s a big edge for them.
Picture the Seahawks as a 0.5-favorite with every game result listed above having the impact listed in parentheses. If the Seahawks remain ahead, the tiebreaker over Chicago is theirs. If the Bears take over, they win the tiebreaker.
What happens if the Seahawks win in Arizona?
The Seahawks can fall as far down as the No. 13 pick if they beat the Cardinals.
If the Seahawks win, the results below will push them down the draft board. Some of these results are guaranteed to push the Seahawks down while others would need to be coupled with a to-be-determined SOS tiebreaker to push Seattle down.
If Seahawks win:
- If Broncos lose vs. Chiefs – Seahawks drop 1 spot (guaranteed – SOS tiebreaker clinched)
- If Football Team loses @ Giants – Seahawks drop 1 spot (guaranteed – would have worse record)
- If Falcons lose vs. Saints – Seahawks drop 1 spot (guaranteed – SOS tiebreaker clinched)
- If Bears lose @ Vikings – Seahawks drop 1 spot (guaranteed – would have worse record)
- If Browns lose vs. Bengals – Seahawks drop 1 spot if Browns win SOS tiebreaker over Seahawks
- If Vikings beat Bears, SOS tiebreaker determines Seahawks’ fall. Both, one, or neither of Vikings and Bears could pass Seahawks depending on how SOS tiebreakers play out
For the Seahawks to drop to No. 13, it would take a Seahawks win, Chiefs win, Giants win, Saints win, Bengals win, Vikings win, and for the Browns, Bears, and Vikings to win their SOS tiebreakers over the Seahawks.
It’s borderline impossible for all that to happen and cause Seattle to drop that far.
Here’s the bottom line: if Seattle wins, Jets fans will want as few of the results in the bulleted list above to happen as possible to limit the severity of Seattle’s fall. For every one of the results that occur in the list above, the Seahawks will drop another spot further if they win.
Whew. You get all that?