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What happens if Washington loses on Sunday?

NFL: Cleveland Browns-2021 NFL Draft Press Conference Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

This article has been updated from a previous version, correcting the draft tiebreaker procedures.

In the spirit of counter-acting any potential jinx placed on the team by the publication of Bill’s article, “Assuming Washington beats Philly on Sunday, who would they meet in the playoffs?” I’ve put together the following piece examining the off-season impacts of the Washington Football Team potentially losing its Week 17 game to the Eagles this Sunday.

The current draft order, after the completion of Week 16, can be found below:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14)

2. New York Jets (2-13)

3. Miami Dolphins (via HOU) (4-11)

4. Atlanta Falcons (4-11)

5. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1)

6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1)

7. Detroit Lions (5-10)

8. New York Giants (5-10)

9. Carolina Panthers (5-10)

10. Denver Broncos (5-10)

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-9)

12. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9)

13. Minnesota Vikings (6-9)

14. New England Patriots (6-9)

15. San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

16. Las Vegas Raiders (7-8)

17. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

18. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)

19. Washington Football Team (6-9)

20. Chicago Bears (8-7)

21. Jacksonville Jaguars (via LAR)

22. Cleveland Browns (10-5)

23. Miami Dolphins (10-5)

24. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

26. Tennessee Titans (10-4)

27. New York Jets (via SEA)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)

29. New Orleans Saints (11-4)

30. Buffalo Bills (12-3)

31. Green Bay Packers (11-3)

32. Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)

This order assumes that Washington wins the division, which would automatically kick the team to the 19th spot, the best draft position of any of the playoff qualifying teams. But, this exercise assumes we lose.

If Washington loses to Philadelphia this week, we finish out of the playoffs, with either the Giants or Cowboys advancing, depending on who wins their match-up this week. That would put us at 6-10, drafting as high - potentially - as 7th, and possibly as low as 15th. This is the group of teams that could potentially finish at 6-10

Detroit Lions (5-10), New York Giants (5-10), Carolina Panthers (5-10), Denver Broncos (5-10), Dallas Cowboys (6-9), Los Angeles Chargers (6-9), Minnesota Vikings (6-9), New England Patriots (6-9), San Francisco 49ers (6-9), and Washington (6-9).

The “good” news - in terms of draft position - is that we hold the strength of schedule tiebreaker over almost all the teams above. Here’s the current strength of schedule order: Denver (.567), 49ers, (.544), New England (.533), Carolina (.529), Minnesota (.508), NYG (.506), Detroit (.504), Chargers, (.490), Dallas (.465), Washington (.465). Here’s what the Week 17 games look like for the teams above, with some commentary on the potential outcome:

Dallas vs. NYG - This game would seem to be pretty close to a toss-up. Either way, however, I think it’s bad news for us. If Dallas wins, they go to 7-9 and win the East, and the Giants go to 5-11 and stay ahead of us in the draft order. If the Giants win, they take the East at a historically pathetic 6-10, and Dallas falls to 6-10 also, but we have the head to head tie breaker over them (and same strength of schedule). In light of this situation, it appears the highest we can draft is actually #8.

NYJ vs. New England - It’s been a tough year for Bill Belichick, but it’s hard to imagine him losing this one to the lowly Jets. Either way, the Pats go 7-9, or 6-10 and still pick behind us based on strength of schedule.

Minnesota vs. Detroit - Here, if the Lions win, they go to 6-10, and fall behind us in draft order by virtue of their superior strength of schedule. Minnesota would go to 6-10 as well and would also hold the strength of schedule tiebreaker over Washington. If the Vikings win, they get out of the mix completely and the Lions fall to 5-11.

Seattle vs. San Francisco - Here, either way, we’re picking ahead of San Francisco. A 49er victory would take them to 7-9. If they lose and go to 6-10, they still pick ahead of us based on strength of schedule.

Las Vegas vs. Denver - If the Broncos win to get to 6-10 here they pick behind us based on strength of schedule. A loss ensures they would pick ahead of us.

San Diego vs. Kansas City - If the Chargers win, they go to 7-9 and pick later than us. If they lose, they pick behind us based on strength of schedule.

New Orleans vs. Carolina - One silver lining of having lost to the Panthers last week? If they win this week, we’ll be picking ahead of them come draft time under this scenario based on strength of schedule. If the Saints win, the 5-11 Panthers draft ahead of us.

So, it appears the highest we can actually pick is 8th. Four teams will definitely be picking behind us (Chargers, 49ers, Pats, Vikings). So, in reality, we’re just competing against the following teams for the 8th pick: The Giants, the Lions, the Broncos, and the Panthers.

So What if We Draft 8th?

If we do land the 8th overall spot (or even 9th or 10th), there could still be some pretty incredible talent left on the draft board. Recall that, in the 2020 draft, Isaiah Simmons was taken 8th by the Cardinals, followed closely by two of the top tackles in the draft at pick 10 (Wills) and pick 11 (Becton).

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Notre Dame at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

This year, it’s a foregone conclusion that Trevor Lawrence will be taken by the Jaguars at #1 overall. Behind him, the Jets have the #2 spot locked up, and are likely to either take Justin Fields (or another QB) themselves, or trade the pick to someone who will. At #3, Penei Sewell, described as one of most complete tackles to come out in years, is the likely pick.

From there, the pool of top talent includes Zach Wilson (QB), Micah Parsons (LB), Patrick Surtain (CB), Ja’Mar Chase (WR), Trey Lance (QB), Christian Darrisaw (OT), Jaylen Waddle (WR), Kwity Paye (EDGE), and Caleb Farley (CB).

These players will be explored in the usual detail in the offseason, but in the meantime, should we lose this week, with a little luck, there will be top talents at several key positions of need come next April. A silver lining to a potentially gloomy cloud.


Would a top 10 pick in 2021 draft take some of the sting off a loss in Week 17?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Yes, it would be a nice consolation prize.
    (844 votes)
  • 34%
    No, it’s playoffs or bust for my emotions.
    (435 votes)
1279 votes total Vote Now