New England Patriots

2024 NFL Draft order: Pats fans should root for these Week 18 results

The No. 2 pick is still within striking distance for New England.

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There's a whole lot on the line for the New England Patriots in their season finale.

We're talking, of course, about New England's position in the 2024 NFL Draft. At 4-12, the Patriots have long since been eliminated from postseason contention, but the results of their Week 18 matchup with the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium as well as other games from around the league could land their first-round pick anywhere from No. 2 to No. 7.

That's a massive difference if New England wants to draft a potential franchise quarterback like USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye or LSU's Jayden Daniels. So, where do the Patriots stand entering Week 18, and which teams should fans be rooting for to improve New England's draft stock?

Let's break it all down.

Patriots' current draft position

If the season ended today, the Patriots would have the No. 3 pick in the 2024 draft. The first draft-order tiebreaker is reverse strength of schedule, meaning the team with the easier strength of schedule (calculated by combined opponent win percentage) earns the higher pick.

New England currently owns the SOS tiebreaker over the 4-12 Arizona Cardinals, but the 4-12 Washington Commanders own the SOS tiebreaker over the Patriots. Here's a look at the current top seven, with each team's strength of schedule in parentheses:

7. Tennessee Titans, 5-11 (.529 SOS)

6. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-11 (.526 SOS)

5. New York Giants, 5-11 (.511 SOS)

4. Arizona Cardinals, 4-12 (.562 SOS)

3. New England Patriots, 4-12 (.518 SOS)

2. Washington Commanders, 4-12 (.515 SOS)

1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers, 2-14, .518 SOS)

Games to watch in Week 18

First, let's state the obvious: If you want the Patriots to land a top-three pick, you'll want them to lose to the Jets on Sunday.

The Commanders play the 11-5 Dallas Cowboys in Week 18, while the Cardinals finish with an 8-8 Seattle Seahawks team that has a playoff berth on the line. If the Patriots win and Washington and Arizona lose, the Patriots finish with no better than a No. 4 pick.

If all three teams lose, however, there's still a path to New England landing a No. 2 pick by vaulting the Commanders in strength of schedule. Since SOS is the combined win percentage of opponents, Patriots fans should be rooting for every team that played Washington this season to win and every team that played New England to lose.

That's obviously a lot to keep track of, but the folks at highlighted five Week 18 outcomes that would benefit the Patriots the most for their SOS tiebreaker vs. Washington:

  • Falcons beat Saints
  • Steelers beat Ravens
  • Texans beat Colts
  • Bears beat Packers
  • Broncos beat Raiders

A Falcons win over the Saints would help New England immensely, as it would lower the Patriots' strength of schedule (they lost to New Orleans earlier this season), and raise the Commanders' SOS (they beat Atlanta earlier this season).

To recap, here are the ideal Week 18 outcomes for New England from a draft pick perspective:

  • Patriots lose to Jets
  • Commanders beat Cowboys
  • Cardinals beat Seahawks
  • Falcons beat Saints
  • Steelers beat Ravens
  • Texans beat Colts
  • Bears beat Packers
  • Broncos beat Raiders

If those first three results hit, the Patriots will land the No. 2 pick. If not, New England will need some help to finish in the top three. It should make for an exciting finish to the 2023 regular season -- even if fans' motives are flipped from the past two decades of following the team.

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