Coming into the week, the Bengals were already holding the No. 3 overall pick if the season were to end. However, they had a chance to drop to the No. 3 pick with a win over the Cowboys and losses by the Chargers and Eagles. There was a very real chance of that happening, as Cincinnati was hosting a depleted Dallas team with little hope of making the playoffs, while Los Angeles and Philly were home underdogs.
Instead, the Bengals floundered to a 30-7 loss to the Cowboys, while the Chargers and Eagles both pulled off upsets against the Falcons and Saints respectively. The Eagles beating the Saints was easily the biggest upset of the week, and it now ensures the Bengals have a nice lead on getting at least the No. 3 pick in 2021.
The Bengals, sitting at 2-10-1, now hold a multi-game lead for a top-three pick. It’s technically 1.5 games, but the point is the Bengals would now need to win two of their final three games to have any chance of losing the No. 3 pick, as the Eagles, Panthers, Falcons, Cowboys, Texans and Chargers now all have four wins.
This means the Bengals can win one of their final three games and still get at least the No. 3 pick. The Jaguars, currently holding the No. 2 pick, would need to win at least two more games and have the Bengals lose out for the latter to move up to the No. 2 pick. The Jets, still winless and holding the No. 1 pick, would need to win out and have the Bengals lose our for the latter to score the top pick for a second-straight year.
Even if the Bengals win out, it’s unlikely they move into a top-two pick, but it’s good to know that they at least have a multi-game lead for the No. 3 pick. And with the first two picks likely being used on quarterbacks, the Bengals would still have a chance to draft the best non-QB prospect in the 2021 draft class if they win one or no games the rest of the year.
Losing sucks, but in the NFL, at least it has some benefit. Last year, going 2-14 helped the Bengals get Joe Burrow, who looks every bit like a long-term franchise QB if he can recover from his knee injury.
This year, failing to win more than three games could net the Bengals another franchise prospect like Oregon Ducks tackle Penei Sewell, Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Patrick Surtain II, LSU Tigers receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts, or Miami (FL) defensive end Gregory Rousseau.
Again, losing isn’t fun, but at least in the NFL, it gives you a small reprieve. Hopefully, the Bengals’ 2020 struggles lead to them getting a game-changing prospect in 2021 that helps them win a lot more in the coming years.
And maybe a new head coach.