The Detroit Lions are no longer in the pole position of the 2022 NFL draft.
The suddenly plucky Lions have now won two of their past three games, including Sunday's stunning 30-12 victory over the first-place Arizona Cardinals, which has bumped them up to a 2-11-1 record — sliding them into the No. 2 overall pick in next year's draft (for now).
And with three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are now in the draft's driver's seat — again — thanks to their 30-16 loss Sunday to the Houston Texans, who completed the sweep over Jacksonville this season. That loss dropped them to 2-12 for the season.
We told you that game would hold major draft importance, even if few can claim to have actually watched it. Urban Meyer getting canned made it a pretty rough week for the Jaguars, but this would appear to be a decent consolation prize — if they can keep losing.
With the win, the Texans drop to the No. 3 slot. But Houston now has the same 3-11 record as the New. York Jets, who lost at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Texans have the edge for the third spot by virtue of a lower strength of schedule (.496 to .504), putting the Jets at No. 4.
Strength of schedule is the first tiebreaker in determining draft order. After that, it's division tiebreakers, conference tiebreakers, inter-conference tiebreakers and, finally, the always-popular coin toss.
Pick Nos. 3 and 4 in a tight race, too
It's worth noting, though, that the Texans' three remaining opponents have a current win percentage of .585, while the Jets' final three games come against teams with a combined .488 win percentage. That's one of the drawbacks of having the 2-12 Jaguars left on the slate, so it's almost certain the Texans will need to win (or tie) another game for the Jets to pass them in the draft order.
Helping the Jaguars' case to remain in the No. 1 slot? For one, they've been playing far worse than the Lions have. Another reason: Jacksonville's three remaining opponents have a win percentage of .476, while Detroit's opponents — including theoretically winnable games against Seattle and Atlanta — is .538.
Right now, the Jaguars "lead" the strength-of-schedule race, .509 to .536, and are half a game up. In short, they'll likely need to beat either the Patriots, Colts or Jets to lose the honors to the No. 1 pick.
Jacksonville picked first overall this spring, selecting quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They earned the spot after the Jets started 0-13 in 2020 but won two straight in Weeks 15 and 16 last year. Lawrence has struggled as a rookie, but there's hope a new coaching staff and another year under his belt could turn his and his team's fortunes around.
We're a long way off from figuring out who might land in the top overall spot, but Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson appear to be the two leading candidates now. The Jaguars had never picked first overall before April, but now they appear to be in good shape to earn the top slot two years running.