Yes, a pair of 2-11 teams meeting in Week 15 being branded "important" can only mean one thing this time of year: Draft implications!
Simply put, the result of this game — Jags win, Texans win or, eek, a tie — will have a significant say on how the upper reaches of the 2022 NFL draft shakes out.
There are important draft implications for Texans/Jaguars on Sunday.
Jaguars win: chances for No. 1 pick fall to 2.5%, Texans jump to 42%.
Texans win: chances for No. 1 pick fall to 3%, Jaguars jump to 30%.
— Sarah Barshop (@sarahbarshop) December 15, 2021
Right now, the Jaguars and Texans are second and third, respectively, in the projected 2022 NFL draft order. They have identical records, and amazingly, they're currently dead even on the first tiebreaker: strength of schedule (.507 for both). And don't forget, the lower a team's SOS, the higher the pick will be.
The second tiebreaker — division record — favors the Jaguars (0-4 vs. AFC South teams) over the Texans (2-2) for now. We might not need to get all the way down to a coin toss on this one, in other words.
But a tie on Sunday would make this draft race all the more thrilling. Sometimes ties can be fun, and we of course are rooting for chaos above all else in this one.
The Detroit Lions stand in the No. 1 spot currently, at 1-11-1. They do not play either the Jaguars or Texans in the remaining four games, so in essence, they control their own fate. Lose out, and the No. 1 pick is theirs.
But Detroit arguably is playing the best football, relatively speaking, of the three squads. Since the bye, the Lions are 1-3-1 in their past five outings. The Jags have dropped five straight, the Texans three straight.
The only other team with a reasonable chance of cracking the top three picks are the 3-10 New York Jets, who host the Jaguars in Week 17 on Boxing Day. The Jets beat the Texans back in Week 12.
Previewing Jaguars-Texans? Sure, why not
Don't forget, the Texans upset the Jaguars at home in Week 1; that was one of their two division wins, with the other shockingly coming in Week 11 at the Titans.
Trevor Lawrence threw for 332 yards and three TDs in his NFL debut, but he also chucked three picks. The Texans took an early 14-zip lead, later extended it to 34-7 before cruising to a 37-21 win as Lawrence threw a TD pass in the waning seconds.
It wasn't much of a game, really. So ... edge Texans? Well, maybe not.
Vegas believes the Jaguars have the better chance to win in Jacksonville, as BetMGM currently lists Jacksonville as 4-point favorites. It's also one of Sunday's smallest total on the board at 39.5 points.
Quick look at the top of the 2022 NFL draft
We're months away from really knowing how it will all shake out. But this much we do know now about April's draft ...
1. There likely isn't a quarterback prospect worth considering with a top-three selection as things stand now.
2. The first two picks, in whatever order, might be Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux. After that, there are questions.
That's really why this game might have so much on the line. Even if neither end up in the No. 1 spot, the difference between picking second and third could be relatively big.
Again, much can alter the draft landscape in the coming five months. But as we look at things now, it's Hutchinson, Thibodeaux and then the field.
Will that be enough to get you to tune in to Texans-Jaguars on Sunday? Perhaps not. But when the draft order is finalized, it'll be a good bet that we'll look back at Sunday's game as a pretty significant development, bad football or not.