New England Patriots

Can Patriots realistically get No. 1 pick? Week 15 results really helped

The Patriots' odds of a top-three pick went up in Week 15.

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Week 15 of the NFL season was very successful for the New England Patriots in regards to the outcome of their own game and also the results of teams around them in the 2024 NFL Draft order.

The Patriots put up a good fight Sunday but lost 27-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. New England led 10-7 in the second quarter but didn't score again until garbage time in the fourth quarter.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 3-11 at the bottom of the AFC standings. They are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the second-worst record in the league, but the Patriots own the tiebreaker for the No. 2 pick because of a weaker strength of schedule (.533 to .564).

Other results around the league in Week 15 helped the Patriots, too. Most notably, the Carolina Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons 9-7 for their second win of the season. The Panthers are now 2-12 -- just one game ahead of the Patriots for the No. 1 pick.

10. Atlanta Falcons, 6-8

9. Tennessee Titans, 5-9

8. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-9

7. New York Giants, 5-9

6. New York Jets, 5-9

5. Chicago Bears, 5-9

4. Washington Commanders, 4-10

3. Arizona Cardinals, 3-11

2. New England Patriots, 3-11

1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers, 2-12)

The Panthers still need to win one more game for the Patriots to have a strong chance at the No. 1 pick, but that scenario is more possible than it was a week ago.

Here are the updated chances of the worst teams getting the No. 1 pick, a top-two pick or a top-three pick, per ESPN's Seth Walder.

The next table shows the schedules for the Patriots, Panthers, Cardinals, Commanders and Bears over the final three weeks of the regular season.

Each of these five teams still has at least one winnable game left, except maybe the Panthers, whose weakest opponent is a Bucs team still in the mix for the NFC South title. The Patriots could easily beat the Jets in Week 18. The Cardinals could beat the Bears in Week 16, and vice versa. The Commanders could definitely beat the Jets in Week 16.

This kind of late-season race for the No. 1 pick is not something a lot of Patriots fans are used to experiencing. Over the last two decades or so, New England normally has been fighting for the No. 1 seed in the AFC at this time of the year.

It will be fascinating to see how the 2024 draft order shakes out over the next couple weeks. There are four teams with a realistic chance at a top-three pick, and one of them will be pretty disappointed by the end of Jan. 7.

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