The new 'path' is determining Patriots' pick in 2021 NFL Draft

DJ Bean
·5 min read

Bean: The new 'path' is determining where the Pats will pick in the '21 Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

This was a big year for Patriots observers going through other teams' schedules in an effort to learn something about the Pats. I was never into that, as I didn't think the Patriots were finding their way into the playoffs. 

Now, though? Hell yeah I'm going through schedules. I want to know where the Pats will be picking in the draft. 

Having fallen to 6-8 with a loss to the Dolphins, the Patriots' first-round pick currently sits at No. 15 overall. With two games left to play, they could theoretically finish 6-10. Could that get them into the top 10, where two 6-10 teams selected last year? 

That's where the schedules come in. Here are the current picks starting at No. 4, where the Panthers have two more losses than the Patriots:

4. Carolina Panthers

4-10

.531 SOS

5. Atlanta Falcons

4-10

.536 SOS

6. Houston (to Miami)

4-10

.551 SOS

7. Philadelphia Eagles

4-9-1

.529 SOS

8. Dallas Cowboys

5-9

.475 SOS

9. L.A. Chargers

5-9

.484 SOS

10. New York Giants

5-9

.502 SOS

11. Detroit Lions

5-9

.509 SOS

12. San Francisco 49ers

5-9

.547 SOS

13. Denver Broncos

5-9

.558 SOS

14. Minnesota Vikings

6-8

.504 SOS

15. New England Patriots

6-8

.522 SOS

16. Chicago Bears

7-7

.491 SOS

17. Las Vegas Raiders

7-7

.536 SOS

Strength of schedule (courtesy of tankathon.com) factors in because if there are two teams with the same record, the team with the worse strength of schedule gets the higher pick. For this exercise, we'll use current strength of schedule as the tiebreaker.

Now here's my extremely unscientific projection of how the teams picking near the Pats will fare the rest of the way. 

 

Week 16

Week 17

Rec.

4. Carolina Panthers 

at WFT (L)

vs. NO (L)

0-2

5. Atlanta Falcons 

at KC (L)

at TB (L)

0-2

6. Houston (to Miami)

vs. CIN (W)

vs. TEN (L)

1-1

7. Philadelphia Eagles

at DAL (W)

vs. WFT (W)

2-0

8. Dallas Cowboys

vs. PHI (L)

at NYG (L)

0-2

9. L.A. Chargers

vs. DEN (W)

at KC (L)

0-2

10. New York Giants

at BAL (L)

vs. DAL (W)

1-1

11. Detroit Lions

vs. TB (L)

vs. MIN (L)

0-2

12. San Francisco 49ers

at AZ (L)

vs. SEA (L)

0-2

13. Denver Broncos

at LAC (L)

vs. LV (L)

0-2

14. Minnesota Vikings

at NO (L)

at DET (W)

1-1

15. New England Patriots

 

 

 

16. Chicago Bears

at JAX (W)

vs. GB (W!)

2-0

17. Las Vegas Raiders

vs. MIA (L)

at DEN (W)

1-1

[Obviously, these are guesses and playoff seedings could change this, though I don't think they will: I have Washington beating the Panthers and getting to seven wins, which would keep them ahead of the Eagles if Philly were to win out.]

So here's how the order would look in such a projection if the Patriots were to go 2-0 with wins over Buffalo and the Jets in the final two weeks: 

4. Carolina Panthers

4-12

.531 SOS

5. Atlanta Falcons

4-12

.536 SOS

6. Dallas Cowboys

5-11

.475 SOS

7. Detroit Lions

5-11

.509 SOS

8. San Francisco 49ers

5-11

.547 SOS

9. Houston (to Miami)

5-11

.551 SOS

10. Denver Broncos

5-11

.558 SOS

11. Los Angeles Chargers

6-10

.484 SOS

12. New York Giants

6-10

.502 SOS

13. Philadelphia Eagles

6-9-1

.529 SOS

14. Minnesota Vikings

7-9

.504 SOS

15. New England Patriots

8-8

.522 SOS

16. Las Vegas Raiders

8-8

.536 SOS

17. Chicago Bears

9-7

.491 SOS

Here's the hypothetical order with the Pats splitting the last two weeks: 

4. Carolina Panthers

4-12

.531 SOS

5. Atlanta Falcons

4-12

.536 SOS

6. Dallas Cowboys

5-11

.475 SOS

7. Detroit Lions

5-11

.509 SOS

8. San Francisco 49ers

5-11

.547 SOS

9. Houston (to Miami)

5-11

.551 SOS

10. Denver Broncos

5-11

.558 SOS

11. L.A. Chargers

6-10

.484 SOS

12. New York Giants

6-10

.502 SOS

13. Philadelphia Eagles

6-9-1

.529 SOS

14. Minnesota Vikings

7-9

.504 SOS

15. New England Patriots

7-9

.522 SOS

16. Las Vegas Raiders

8-8

.536 SOS

17. Chicago Bears

9-7

.491 SOS

And finally, the potential order if the Pats lose out: 

4. Carolina Panthers

4-12

.531 SOS

5. Atlanta Falcons

4-12

.536 SOS

6. Dallas Cowboys

5-11

.475 SOS

7. Detroit Lions

5-11

.509 SOS

8. San Francisco 49ers

5-11

.547 SOS

9. Houston (to Miami)

5-11

.551 SOS

10. Denver Broncos

5-11

.558 SOS

11. L.A. Chargers

6-10

.484 SOS

12. New York Giants

6-10

.502 SOS

13. New England Patriots

6-10

.522 SOS

14. Philadelphia Eagles

6-9-1

.529 SOS

15. Minnesota Vikings

7-9

.504 SOS

16. Las Vegas Raiders

8-8

.536 SOS

17. Chicago Bears

9-7

.491 SOS

So, to summarize, here's where this unscientific projection has the Pats picking depending on how they finish:

  • 6-10: 13th

  • 7-9: 15th

  • 8-8: 15th

Disappointed? Yeah, same, but what else is new this season? If the teams below the Patriots in the standings kick ass the rest of the way, sure, they can move way up, but when you go through their schedules, it's hard to see it happening.

That said, No. 13 isn't terrible. We'll see if they even get that though, as the Jets winning de-incentivizes Bill Belichick to throw the Week 17 meeting.

Unless the Patriots either get really lucky or really unlucky, expect them to pick somewhere in the 13-15 range in 2021.