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Bean: The new 'path' is determining where the Pats will pick in the '21 Draft

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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.