Free Press writers Dave Birkett, Shawn Windsor debate why the Lions winning is important, the career of Ziggy Ansah and offensive woes Dec. 9, 2018.
Dave Birkett and Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press
Holy upsets, Batman.
If you recall from our re-inaugural column last week, the 49ers, Raiders and Jets held the top three spots in our first projected draft order of the season, and their victories (over the Broncos, Steelers and Bills) sure shook things up with three weeks to go in the regular season.
The 49ers remain Nick Bosa’s most likely destination as the top pick in the draft, but everyone else in our Terrible 10 occupies a new spot this week.
First, and most importantly for you Detroit Lions fans out there, the Lions dropped from No. 5 in the projected draft order by virtue of their thrilling, exciting, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-the-TV win over the lowly Arizona Cardinals all the way to No. 10.
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That’s not quite the nosedive the stock market has been taking lately, but if you were greedy and hoping to, say, land the best cornerback in the draft, you’re probably not going get him at No. 10.
No worries, though. According to our patented LIMP system for calculating such things here at Draft Watch 2018, the Lions are still in line to land a pretty good player in the draft.
If you’re not familiar with LIMP, the Lie-down Index Meter Probability measures each team’s likelihood of winning future game by weighing, among other factors, their appetite for tanking, overall talent level and health.
The Lions aren’t in tank mode and have a favorable schedule down the stretch with road games against the 4-9 Buffalo Bills and 5-7-1 Green Bay Packers sandwiching a Christmas Eve’s eve visit from Minnesota for a game against the potentially playoff-bound Vikings. But they get low marks in the health department right now as their injury report this week is longer than my 9-year-old daughter’s holiday wish list.
Currently, 11 NFL teams have eight or more losses – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals joined that exclusive club this week – and, according to Tankathon.com, six of those teams have better strengths of schedule than the Lions (the tie-breaker when it comes to determining draft order).
Remember, the Lions’ faint playoff hopes are still alive, but if you’re already looking forward to April’s Super Bowl, this week’s Draft Watch is dedicated to you.
The current draft order, per Tankathon:
1. San Francisco 49ers (3-10) – Martin Mayhew isn’t the chief decision maker in San Francisco, but the former Lions executive could be part of the team that drafts No. 1 overall for the second time in his career. As Lions GM, he took Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall in 2009. Four months from now, the 49ers will make Bosa the pick. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 0.
2. Arizona Cardinals (3-10) – Did you watch Sunday’s game? The Lions have played well on defense of late, but that Cardinals offense is brutal and the speculation in Arizona is that Steve Wilks could be fired after the season. The Cardinals visit the Falcons on Sunday and close with games against the Rams and at the Seahawks. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 0.
3. Oakland Raiders (3-10) – The Raiders have been tanking since September, when they traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears and created a new NFC North power, and now they’re going to go ahead and screw that up. They rallied to beat the Steelers on Sunday, and their strength of schedule is such that they’ll pick below the 49ers and Cardinals if they all finish with the same record. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 0.
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-9) – The Falcons have lost five straight, tied with the Panthers and Bengals for longest current losing streak in the NFL, but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. First, it’s amazing Atlanta is this bad. Second, they host the Cardinals this week and visit the lowly Panthers and Bucs to finish out the season. They might finish second in the division. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 2.
5. New York Jets (4-9) – Good for Sam Darnold for leading that comeback Sunday against the next team on this list, but that’ll be the last Jets win for the season with games remaining at home against the Texans and Packers and at New England in Week 17. Maybe the Patriots will be resting players for the finale, but four wins and a coaching change seems more likely. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 0.
6. Buffalo Bills (4-9) – The Bills play two of their final three games at home, where weather can be a factor. And unlike some others on this list, they don’t appear to have quit on the season. But Buffalo is almost as bad offensively as Arizona, so losses are coming the next two weeks against the Lions and Patriots. I’ve got them beating the Dolphins in the finale, though, with Miami out of the playoffs. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 1.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) – The Jaguars have been held below 10 points five times in 13 games this year. They need to lose to better their chances of drafting a quarterback. They mostly will, too, though a home game with Washington next week seems like one final chance to feel good for the year. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 1.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) – The Bucs had New Orleans on upset alert early Sunday, but couldn’t close the deal. They’ve been competitive in recent weeks, though, and are bound to win at least one of their final three games against the Ravens, Cowboys and Falcons. If Lamar Jackson doesn’t play next week, they might even win two. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 2.
9. New York Giants (5-8) – I know. It was Mark Sanchez, and if you can’t beat Mark Sanchez you have nothing these days. But the Giants have quietly won four of their last five games and Saquon Barkley is a stud. There’s nothing easy about remaining games against Tennessee, Indianapolis and Dallas, but Barkley’s good for at least one W down the stretch. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 1.
10. Detroit Lions (5-8) – Give Matt Patricia credit for improvements the Lions have made on defense, but with Ziggy Ansah (likely out for the season), Da’Shawn Hand, Darius Slay and Devon Kennard all nursing injuries, I’m not sure the Lions can sustain that over the final three weeks. Offensively, the Lions are basically on the Cardinals-Bills-Jaguars level, but a trip to Buffalo this week should get them to six wins. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 1.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) – The Bengals play the Raiders this week. They’ll go back into hibernation after that. LIMP projection of remaining wins: 1.
Contact Dave Birkett: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Download our Lions Xtra app for free on Apple and Android!