If the goal of the 2023 season for the Patriots was to end up with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, well, they’re sitting in a good spot to do that through the first 10 weeks.
New England entered its bye week with a 2-8 record, which is tied for the second-worst mark in the NFL. With the three-way tie, the Patriots currently hold the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, sitting behind the fellow 2-8 Giants but in front of the 2-8 Cardinals due to tiebreakers.
While the Patriots and Giants play each other in Week 12, that game won’t have any bearing on tiebreakers for the draft order if both teams have the same record at season’s end. Strength of schedule is the primary tiebreaker used to determine draft order, and the Patriots’ strength of schedule (.538) is a bit tougher than the Giants’ (.519) and just a smidge easier than the Cardinals’ (.544).
So, as the Patriots are in a three-way tie with the Giants and Cardinals – while sitting a half-game behind the 1-8 Panthers and a game ahead of the 3-7 Bears for the league’s worst record – they’re certainly in the hunt for the No. 1 overall pick.
Entering Week 11, ESPN’s FPI model gives the Patriots a 5.1 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. That’s the fourth-highest percentage, trailing the Giants (39.8 percent), Panthers (who owe their pick to the Bears, 38.2 percent), and Cardinals (12.3 percent). In terms of betting odds, the Patriots are tied with the Cardinals for the third-best odds to finish with the league’s worst record (+500), trailing the Panthers (+155) and Giants (+230).
There are a couple disadvantages for the Patriots compared to their fellow contenders for the worst record and No. 1 overall pick. They have the second-best strength of schedule out of the teams with the worst five records in the league and the third-best strength of schedule out of the teams with the 10 worst records in the league. So, they’ll likely be in a bad spot if they finish the season tied with any other teams.
The other thing working at a disadvantage for the Patriots is their remaining strength of schedule. They have the fourth-easiest remaining strength of schedule (.492) among the five teams with the worst records. However, the Panthers have the easiest strength of schedule remaining in the group (.473). Also, while the Cardinals have the third-toughest schedule remaining in the league, they just got Kyler Murray back last week, which could help them steal some wins down the stretch.
Even if the Patriots don’t end up with the No. 1 overall pick, they’re sitting in a good spot to get a high selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. ESPN’s FPI gives them a 15.2 percent chance to get a top-two pick, a 63.2 percent chance to end up with a top-five pick, and a 93.9 percent chance to end up with a top-10 pick. ESPN’s FPI also projects the Patriots to end up with the fourth-worst record, but also has their average draft position at 5.2.
So, the Patriots will obviously need some help to improve their chances of getting a better pick. They can get some help in that regard this weekend, but it’ll be tough sledding. The Panthers are 10.5-point underdogs at home against the Cowboys. The Giants are 8.5-point underdogs on the road against the Commanders. The Cardinals are six-point underdogs against C.J. Stroud and the Texans.
The Patriots could gain some separation though from the teams sitting not too far behind them in the race for the No. 1 overall pick. The 3-6 Packers are three-point underdogs at home, but take on an uneven 4-5 Chargers team. The 3-6 Rams are a one-point favorite at home against the Seahawks and a Giants loss would mean the Commanders move 2.5 games behind the Patriots for the league’s worst record.
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