For the first time in 20 years, the New England Patriots have nothing to play for entering the last two weeks of the season.
But there's still a race worth watching in Weeks 16 and 17.
The Patriots officially were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday after their 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins, which dropped them to 6-8 on the season.
That means New England will finish .500 or worse for the second time in the Bill Belichick era. But if there's a silver lining, the loss means the Patriots will have at least a top-18 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which would be their highest selection since picking No. 17 overall in 2011.
So, where would the Patriots pick in the first round of the 2021 Draft if the season ended today? Here's the updated draft order for teams not in the playoffs after the early results from Week 15 (via Tankathon).
- Jacksonville Jaguars, 1-13
- New York Jets, 1-13
- Cincinnati Bengals, 2-10-1
- Carolina Panthers, 4-10
- Atlanta Falcons, 4-10
- Miami Dolphins (via Houston Texans, 4-10)
- Philadelphia Eagles, 4-9-1
- Dallas Cowboys, 5-9
- Los Angeles Chargers, 5-9
- New York Giants, 5-9
- Detroit Lions, 5-9
- San Francisco 49ers, 5-9
- Denver Broncos, 5-9
- Minnesota Vikings, 6-8
- New England Patriots, 6-8
- Chicago Bears, 7-7
- Las Vegas Raiders, 7-7
- Baltimore Ravens, 9-5
The Patriots moved up one spot from their No. 16 slot last week, but it's unlikely they'll move up much more.
If they lose the AFC East champion Buffalo Bills next Sunday but beat the New York Jets in Week 17, they'll finish 7-9. Twelve NFL teams already have nine losses, and it's highly unlikely that any of them go 3-0 down the stretch.
So, New England could leapfrog the Vikings or Giants in the NFL Draft order if either team wins a couple more games, but No. 13 is about the best Bill Belichick's club can hope for.
Then again, the Patriots used that No. 17 pick in 2011 to draft future starting left tackle Nate Solder, so there's certainly talent to be had in the middle of the first round.