If you're hoping that the Bengals get the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft but you're worried that the Carolina Panthers are going to get it, fear not. According to Joe Reedy, there's still a chance.
The 1-13 Panthers, as of right now, have a one game lead on getting the first overall draft choice in 2011. However, this weekend they host the 4-9 Arizona Cardinals. That is their last, and really only, chance to win a second game this season. After they play the Cardinals, they travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers and then to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.
If they win this weekend and the Bengals lose out, the two teams would tie for the worst record at 2-14 and even though the Bengals wouldn't technically be in last place in the NFL because of the head-to-head win, head-to-head wins aren't in the draft order equation. Strength of schedule is.
Going into this week’s games, the Panthers SOS is .580 to the Bengals .598. However, when you factor in the remaining three opponents, the Bengals are at .586 to Carolina’s .591.
So, if the Bengals get beat by the Browns, Chargers and Ravens, Carolina beats the Cardinals and the Panthers' strength of schedule ends up being greater than Cincinnati's, then the Bengals could end up with their fourth first overall pick in a draft in franchise history. That's a lot of ifs but it's possible.
So what happens if the Bengals win on Sunday?
They would likely finish with a 3-13 record, assuming that they lose their final two games, and fall in line with the Bills, Broncos and Lions. Of those three teams, the Broncos have the worst strength of schedule and would likely jump ahead of the Bengals in draft order and so could the Lions. Even Buffalo's strength of schedule is lower than the Bengals so they could also jump Cincinnati if both teams finish 3-13. So, one win could push the Bengals from the first overall pick to the fifth. Below is the draft order as of week 14.
- Carolina 1-13 — Strength of schedule 98-71; Remaining opponents 25-14
- Cincinnati 2-12 — Strength of schedule 101-68; Remaining opponents 21-18
- Denver 3-13 — Strength of schedule 88-81; Remaining opponents 18-21
- Buffalo 3-13 — Strength of schedule 94-75; Remaining opponents 27-12
- Detroit 3-13 — Strength of schedule 95-74; Remaining opponents 20-19
That brings up an interesting question, though. Would you be okay with the Bengals playing for a draft pick or would you rather see the Bengals win a couple games in their last three weeks. They could possibly ruin the season for Baltimore if San Diego or Indianapolis win out or they could also ruin the Charger's hopes at squeezing into a wild card spot. What's more important at this point, a couple of spirit lifting wins or a franchise changing draft pick?