With no playoff spots on the line, the Green Bay Packers are watching the scoreboards around the NFL not for playoff positioning, but to see where their draft slot will end up for the 2018 NFL Draft. Based on the current draft order after week 16, the Packers sit in a tie with Washington for the 14th pick.
Below we have broken down the best and worst scenarios for the Packers’ draft selections. Not surprisingly, a loss to the Lions would lead to the best pick in 2018 for Green Bay, and we’ll break down what could happen depending on Sunday’s results.
Note that teams’ strength of schedule are not yet set, as all of the results from Sunday will need to be accounted for, but this week’s SOS values are likely to at least be close to what the teams will end up with.
Scenario One: Packers lose to the Lions
The first and most important way for the Packers to improve their draft position is to lose Sunday’s game. Given the injuries all over the roster, that seems entirely likely at this point. The highest pick that the Packers should be able to achieve would be the 12th selection; here’s how that could happen, with the understanding that a loss to Detroit is the first piece of the puzzle.
Washington beats Giants
Washington plays the 2-13 New York Giants, so they could finish the season season with a worse strength of schedule than the Packers. The Packers would want Washington to have a better record in order to be sure to pass them up in the draft. A Washington victory does seem likely, given the Giants’ dismal season, but it’s no lock.
The Packers could also move up another spot by having the Seahawks fall in an upset at home to 7-8 Arizona, whose strength of schedule is currently worse than the Packers’ and Washington’s. It’s not a likely scenario, though, as Seattle still has a Wild Card spot to play for, but if it happens the Cards bump up to 8-8 and clear of the 7-9 Packers.
The third and final spot the Packers could pick up is if the 6-9 Dolphins beat Buffalo at home, which would give Green Bay and Miami matching 7-9 records. However, Miami’s strength of schedule is currently higher than the Packers, which would push them below Green Bay (and potentially Washington) in this scenario.
Other 6-9 teams
It appears unlikely that the Packers would be able to overtake the Bengals or Raiders at this point, as both teams have significantly weaker schedules than the Packers. Thus, the 12th pick is probably as high as the Packers could get.
Meanwhile, the worst possible scenario if the Packers lose is that they slip a notch to the 15th pick. That would take place if Arizona, Washington, and Miami all lose as well and maintain weaker strength of schedule than Green Bay.
Scenario Two: Packers beat Lions
A loss could actually cost the Packers a handful of spots, as they currently have one of the stronger SOS of the teams that could end up at 8-8. This would assure that Washington picks ahead of them, though there’s a potential SOS tiebreaker with Dallas that could be interesting.
In an odd twist due to tiebreakers and SOS, the Packers would probably pick after the Lions, despite technically having finishing in third place behind them in the division.
A Green Bay win would also require the Packers to root for the other 8-7 teams to win as well, as they all have weaker schedules at present. Therefore, wins by the Chargers and Bills would be helpful, so long as the 8-7 Titans (currently in the playoffs as a Wild Card) also win. A Cowboys victory over Philadelphia would be helpful as well, as the Cowboys’ SOS will not be stronger than the Packers, even after playing the 12-3 Eagles.
Best-case scenario: pick 16
Here’s how the Packers could get the 16th pick if they beat the Lions:
Chargers beat Raiders, Bills beat Dolphins, Cowboys beat Eagles, Titans beat Jaguars
Worst-case scenario: pick 19
Chargers lose to Raiders OR Titans lose to Jaguars, Bills lose to Raiders, Cowboys lose to Eagles
Editor’s note: this article mistakenly listed Washington as playing the Cowboys, instead of the correct matchups (WAS-NYG and DAL-PHI).