At the start of the season, the Seahawks looked bad. Really bad. Bad enough that people were really wondering if they were going to end up being one of the worst teams in the league. Not only did they lose their first two games of the year, they lost them badly: an anemic offensive performance followed by special teams collapse against San Francisco, and then the utterly brutal showing in Pittsburgh.
Going 0-16 may not have been a realistic possibility, but there were certainly predictions of 4 wins or fewer. Of course, there was that bright spot associated with having such a dismal season: a high draft pick, and with it the opportunity to draft the potential franchise quarterback that would propel us to our rightful place atop the NFL's elite.
Fast forward to the 3/4-mark of the season. The Seahawks are no longer among the bottom-feeders; in fact, it's quite possible that they'll match the 7-9 record that they achieved last year. (Though unfortunately that won't be enough to win the division title, no thanks to Jim Harbaugh.) As the wins accumulated, however, we saw our cushy spot in the front of the line disappear, and suddenly the discussion shifted from "which QB will we draft in the first round?" to "is there going to be a QB worth drafting in the first round when our turn comes around?" Or, if you prefer, "which team are we going to have to sell the house to in order to draft a QB in the first round?"
Indeed, for some people, we're in the absolute worst spot possible: not good enough to reach the playoffs (barring several miracles working in concert), not bad enough to get the guy we want without greasing the palms of a few GMs.
Fortunately, the Seahawks were able to win last Thursday without doing any damage to their draft positioning, as they held on to the #13 pick. Monday's game between the Chargers and Jaguars, however, was one where neither outcome was really desirable; a Chargers win helped keep the Jags - who probably aren't going to keep Blaine Gabbert given the new owner, the new coach, and the fact that Gabbert has been terrible - in the top 5. Meanwhile, a Jags win would've caused the Seahawks to be leapfrogged by both the Chargers and the Bills due to schedule strength. The one major positive was the Vikings losing at the final whistle to the Broncos; they remain our most reliable suitor with the #3 pick.
As for the rest of the order:
1. Colts (0-12, 105-91 SOS)
2. Rams (2-10, 101-91 SOS)
3. Vikings (2-10,109-93 SOS)
4. Jaguars (3-9, 97-95 SOS)
5. Redskins (4-8, 94-98 SOS)
6. Eagles (4-8, 95-97 SOS)
7. Panthers (4-8, 96-96 SOS
8. Dolphins (4-8, 98-94 SOS)
9. Browns (4-8, 102-90 SOS)
10. Buccaneers (4-8, 104-88 SOS)
11. Cardinals (5-7, 90-102 SOS)
12. Chiefs (5-7, 98-94 SOS, 1-2 Div.)
**13. Seahawks (5-7, 98-94 SOS, 2-1 Div.)**
14. Bills (5-7, 99-93 SOS)
15. Chargers (5-7, 103-89 SOS)
16. Giants (6-6, 98-94 SOS)
17. Cowboys (7-5, 86-106 SOS)
18. Titans (7-5, 89-103 SOS)
19. Falcons (7-5, 91-101 SOS)
20. Jets (7-5, 93-99 SOS)
21. Bengals (7-5, 95-97 SOS)
22. Bears (7-5, 99-93 SOS)
23. Raiders (7-5, 100-92 SOS)
24. Broncos (7-5, 101-91 SOS)
25. Lions (7-5, 107-85 SOS)
26. Texans (9-3, 84-108 SOS)
27. Saints (9-3, 85-107 SOS)
28. Patriots (9-3, 86-106 SOS)
29. Ravens (9-3, 93-99 SOS)
30. Steelers (9-3, 95-97 SOS)
31. 49ers (10-2, CLINCHED)
32. Packers (12-0, CLINCHED)
(Strength of Schedule is the total win-loss record of all opponents on a team's schedule. Divisional opponents are counted twice since they appear on the schedule twice. Division records break any ties, followed by a coin toss. Teams that clinch the playoffs draft no higher than 21st, based on postseason finish.)
Now here's the way we need next week's games to pan out in order to best influence our draft position, regardless of how we fare against the Rams:
CLE @ PIT: The Browns are a definite "maybe" in terms of shopping for a QB in the draft. Root for the Browns.
NE @ WAS: Similarly, the Redskins may be in the market for a quarterback at season's end. Root for Washington.
KC @ NYJ: Chiefs win + Seahawks loss = one less team in front of us. Root for the Chiefs.
HOU @ CIN: In order to help dilute the NFC North, Root for the Texans.
IND @ BAL: Again, to help weaken the NFC North's overall record, Root for the C-... never mind.
ATL @ CAR: Since Atlanta's on our schedule, Root for the Panthers.
PHI @ MIA: If Matt Moore continues to impress, Miami may not be in such a rush to replace him. Plus, there's leapfrog potential. Root for the Dolphins.
MIN @ DET: The Vikings really are our last best hope to trade up. Root for the Lions.
SF @ ARI: A chance to leapfrog the Cards if the pull the upset. Root for Arizona.
CHI @ DEN: Since Chicago's on the schedule, Root for the Broncos.
OAK @ GB: Inconsequential.
BUF @ SD: The Bills have one additional win over us on Strength of Schedule, while the Chargers have five. Root for the Bills.
NYG @ DAL: Inconsequential, although you'll want Dallas to maintain its divisional lead to help our outside shot at a wild card spot.
That'll do it for another week of our DraftWatch. Unlike last week, we'll have a chance to see everything unfold around the rest of the league before the Seahawks take the field, so I'll likely chime in on Monday to report on where the Seahawks will be in the order if they win and if they lose. See you then!