My method of tracking everyone's draft order this season has been pretty simple. Every Sunday, I fire up the Notepad file I use which ranks each team, and tracks their Strength of Schedule, divisional record, total W-L record of the team's three divisional rivals, the two divisions that team faces, and the two same-conference-non-division opponents on the schedule, and tally up the wins and losses as each game goes final (or, if the lead is big enough, the point I say "that one's over").
Once all the Sunday games are wrapped up, I calculate all the schedule strengths of any team that is not implicated by the Monday night game. Once that's done, I draw up two charts - one for each of the potential outcomes of that last game. (And heaven help me if any MNF game ends in a tie.) That's why these things go out so fast after the Monday game is over - I just run with the chart that actually ended up happening, and delete the other one.
I can't tell you how awesome it was to delete the "IF WE LOSE" chart.
1. Colts (0-13, 110-98 SOS)
2. Vikings (2-11, 118-90 SOS)
3. Rams (2-11, 121-87 SOS)
4. Redskins (4-9, 93-115 SOS)
5. Panthers (4-9, 101-107 SOS)
6. Jaguars (4-9, 105-103 SOS)
7. Buccaneers (4-9, 108-100 SOS)
8. Dolphins (4-9, 109-99 SOS)
9. Browns (4-9, 110-98 SOS)
10. Eagles (5-8,102-106 SOS)
11. Bills (5-8, 107-101 SOS, 1-3 Div.)
12. Chiefs (5-8, 107-101 SOS, 1-2 Div.)
13. Cardinals (6-7, 96-112 SOS)
**14. Seahawks (6-7, 105-103 SOS)**
15. Chargers (6-7, 111-97 SOS)
16. Cowboys (7-6, 95-113 SOS)
17. Titans (7-6, 98-110 SOS)
18. Bengals (7-6, 104-104 SOS)
19. Giants (7-6, 106-102 SOS)
20-21. Bears (7-6, 109-99 SOS, 2-2 Div.)
20-21. Raiders (7-6, 109-99 SOS, 2-2 Div.)
22. Falcons (8-5, 96-112 SOS)
23. Jets (8-5, 101-107 SOS)
24. Broncos (8-5, 107-101 SOS)
25. Lions (8-5, 113-95 SOS)
26. Patriots (10-3, 93-115 SOS)
27. Ravens (10-3, 101-107 SOS)
28. Steelers (10-3, 102,106 SOS)
Teams that have clinched a playoff spot:
(Strength of Schedule is the total win-loss record of every opponent on a team's schedule. Divisional rivals are counted twice since they appear on the schedule twice. Ties are then broken by divisional record, and a coinflip if necessary. Playoff teams can pick no higher than 21st based on their result, so they are excluded from the above list.)
The downside is that Seattle has now slipped to the 14th pick in the draft, losing a SOS tiebreaker against the division-rival Cardinals while staying ahead of the resurgent Chargers. But who cares at this point, really? The absolute best that the Seahawks can hope for is to draft 4th, and that would require not only a three game swoon by the 'Hawks, but for every team in front of us that we could possibly jump to win out. That's simply not going to happen. More likely, we'd end up somewhere in the 8-12 range, and we'd still have enough QB-needy teams in front of us that we'd probably have to find a way to trade up.
So on that note, why not just root for the Seahawks to win out the rest of the year? Worst case scenario is that the 'Hawks finish 9-7 and yet miss out on the playoffs due to tiebreakers, ending up with the 20th pick. The only teams we'll be letting go in front of us are teams that aren't in a dire need for a quarterback. The only problem may be that having a lower draft pick would make a trade less appetizing for our potential suitors. But seriously, we can worry about that in March, when the rest of the NFL worries about it.
On that note, let's take a look at next week's games (minus our confrontation with the Bears - seriously, how many times do we have to play this team over three years?)
JAC @ ATL: We're two games back of Atlanta for a wild card berth; they'd pretty much have to crash and burn for us to overtake them. Meanwhile, Jacksonville may look to replace Gabbert. Root for the Jags.
DAL @ TB: Dallas has a head-to-head against us for playoff purposes, while the Bucs are a game in front with 3 more wins in their SOS. Root for the Cowboys for the wild-card help, or the Bucs to help with the draft.
CIN @ STL: A Bengals win adds 1 to our SOS record, but a Rams win would add 2. For purposes of weakening our SOS, root for the Bengals.
GB @ KC: Inconsequential.
TEN @ IND: Inconsequential.
WAS @ NYG: We'd rather see the Giants as a wild card contender than a division champ, since we have the head-to-head against them. On top of that, the Redskins are two games in front of us in the draft - three if you consider their putrid SOS. Root for the Redskins.
CAR @ HOU: Carolina remains a viable trade candidate. Root for the Texans.
NO @ MIN: Minnesota is also a potential trade partner. Root for the Saints.
DET @ OAK: Nothing to do with the draft, but Seattle's best hopes for the playoffs involve a Detroit implosion. Hold your nose and root for the Raiders.
CLE @ ARI: The Browns are two games in front for draft positioning, and the Cardinals are only in front of us because of a weaker SOS. If you're really into the draft positioning, root for the Cards.
NE @ DEN: Inconsequential.
NYJ @ PHI: The Eagles winning has more of an impact on our draft position than the loss affecting our SOS. Root for the Eagles.
BAL @ SD: A Ravens loss would help our SOS. Slightly. Personally, I'd rather the Ravens keep the AFC North title away from the Steelers. Root for the Chargers... if you must.
PIT @ SF: Root for a tie. That would pretty much be the best possible result - not only would it weaken the 49ers' chances at a first-round bye, but it would make it a lot tougher for the Steelers to win their division.
After next week, we'll know if the playoff chase that we're on is continuing in earnest, or if we really do need to pay serious attention to where we'll end up in the draft. See you then!