The Bengals jumped off to a hot start this season, winning four out of the first five games. Since then, the Bengals have dropped six of seven and are steadily climbing up the draft board with every passing week.
As it stands this week after the loss to the Broncos, the Bengals are now 5-7 on the year. Adding in tiebreakers, this gives them the 12th-worst record in the NFL through at this very moment, which puts them in that exact spot in the current draft order.
The Bengals have four games left in 2018; the play the Chargers, Raiders, Browns, and the Steelers to close out the year. Their matchup with the 2-10 Raiders is the one remaining home game, so at least we have that to look forward to. Other than that, they play two playoff teams and the Browns on the road in four weeks. It’s very possible (even likely at this point) that the Bengals go 1-3, with that one victory coming against Oakland.
The Bengals have not been mathematically eliminated from the first-overall spot, but it would be difficult since are in second and play two 4-8 teams in the Giants and the Falcons, in addition to some other scheduling obstacles the Bengals would have to overcome.
But if the Bengals do indeed go 1-3, then the Bengals would end the season with a .375 winning percentage. That would drop the 6-10 Bengals to 23rd place in the current field, which would give them the tenth pick.
An optimistic result of the upcoming slew of games would be a 2-2 record with wins against the Browns and Raiders. This would land the Bengals a move up to 19th in the current field, which would net them the 14th overall pick.
Of course, in the unlikely scenario the Bengals win out, they could get the 20th overall pick instead. But there is next to no possibility that the Bengals can beat the Chargers in Los Angeles after a cross-country flight and the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
But the Bengals getting a top-five pick isn’t out of the question. The 4-8 Falcons have don’t play another team with a winning record this season, so they could easily move up. The 4-7-1 Packers play the Bears, who they have already beaten this season, but play losing teams in their three other games. So if the teams below the Bengals play well and the Bengals keep doing what they have been doing, then the Bengals will keep climbing up the draft board.
Somewhere in the range between fifth and tenth is where the Bengals are most likely to be selecting in the 2019 NFL Draft. While they are not yet eliminated from contention, the Bengals are in too much of a skid to realistically be able to climb out. So maybe the best possible result of a losing season would be a high draft pick in the upcoming draft.