Despite the attention-grabbing headline, I am one of the 12s that still thinks the all-in move for Jamal Adams two offseasons ago was a justifiable gamble. The results obviously haven’t been what the team or the fanbase hoped for though and the final cost of the trade has risen much higher than anticipated.
How high is the question I’m looking to provide some clarity on today.
After Sunday’s gut-wrenching loss, there are 5 teams who currently have a worse record than the Seahawks:
- Detroit Lions: 2-12-1
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-13-0
- Houston Texans: 4-11-0
- New York Giants: 4-11-0
- New York Jets: 4-11-0
The Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers have the same 5-10 record as Seattle but ESPN.com, NFL.com, etc. all list Seattle behind those two teams based on various tiebreakers, including Chicago’s head-to-head win. Thus, if the season ended today, Seattle would have the #6 overall pick.
There are still 2 weeks (+ a MNF game) left in the season though and things can still change - for better, for worse, or somewhere in between.
Even if Seattle loses their last 2 games, they can’t “catch” the Lions or the Jaguars so the Seahawks’ pick cannot be higher than #3 in each round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
And having the #3 pick would require both Jersey teams (Giants and Jets) and the Texas mess (Houston) to either win out or, perhaps, finish 1-1 and hold a tiebreaker over the Seahawks.
Note: I am not terribly inclined to spend time trying to figure out tiebreaker scenarios for 5-win teams. If someone else wants to, please share your findings in the Comments.
Now that we know what the worst-case scenario is (5-12; #3 overall pick*), let’s look at the best-case scenario ... theoretically speaking.
We’ll start with all of the teams that currently have at least 8 wins. Warning: It’s a long list.
- Green Bay Packers: 12-3-0
- Dallas Cowboys: 11-4-0
- Kansas City Chiefs: 11-4-0
- Los Angeles Rams: 11-4-0
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11-4-0
- Arizona Cardinals: 10-5-0
- Tennessee Titans: 10-5-0
- Buffalo Bills: 9-6-0
- Cincinnati Bengals: 9-6-0
- Indianapolis Colts: 9-6-0
- New England Patriots: 9-6-0
- Baltimore Ravens: 8-8-0
- Las Vegas Raiders: 8-7-0
- Los Angeles Chargers: 8-7-0
- San Francisco 49ers: 8-7-0
- Philadelphia Eagles: 8-7-0
That’s half the league guaranteed to have more wins than the Seahawks.
Ignoring everything else, for just a moment, having 16 teams with more wins than Seattle can hope to have this season means that, at best, Seattle would finish ahead of 15 other teams.
Alas, that is not the reality of the situation.
Up to this point, I have mentioned 24 teams: 16 with 8 or more wins and 8 teams, including the Seahawks, with a maximum of 5 wins. That means that there are 8 teams with either 6 or 7 wins - teams that Seattle, could, at least theoretically, “catch” in the standings.
Here’s that list:
- Washington What’s-Its: 6-9
- Atlanta Falcons: 7-8-0
- Cleveland Browns: 7-8-0
- Denver Broncos: 7-8-0
- Minnesota Vikings: 7-8-0
- Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-7-1
- Miami Dolphins: 7-7-0
- New Orleans Saints: 7-7-0
Now for the caveats regarding these 8 teams:
The Saints and the Dolphins conclude the league’s Week 15 slate on Monday Night Football. In theory, the 12s should root for the Saints since they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks and are guaranteed to finish ahead of Seattle in the final standings.
The Minnesota Vikings also hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks and thus cannot be caught.
Last but not least, the Steelers’ Week 10 tie with the Lions benefits them here because 7-9-1 beats 7-10 so Pittsburgh is out of reach for the Seahawks as well.
That means that at least 19 teams will finish ahead of Seattle in the final standings (the 16 with at least 8 wins + the Saints, the Vikings, and the Steelers) and a maximum of 12 teams will finish behind the Seahawks.
The best-case scenario, from a trade-cost minimization standpoint, is that the Seahawks will finish 7-10 and the pick the Jets get, courtesy of the Jamal Adams trade, ends up being #13 overall.
I think that most 12s would agree that it’s unlikely that Seattle will lose out, finish ahead of only the Lions and Jaguars, and end up with the #3 overall pick.
Having the #13 overall pick seems similarly unlikely since the Seahawks would have to win out and the Bears and Panthers would have to lose at least 1 of their final 2 games and the Broncos, Browns, Dolphins, and Falcons would all have to lose out, and all of the tiebreakers would have to fall in the Seahawks’ favor.
So where does that leave us?
My money says the Jets end up with a top-10 pick, courtesy of Seattle’s poor season. But I’m not-so-secretly hoping it ends up being #12 overall - just because.