Five days ago, with the Eagles mathematically eliminated from the postseason and the 2016 regular season still dragging on interminably, I looked at the Eagles’ first round draft pick. Because of the Sam Bradford trade, the Eagles’ first rounder is dependent on the Minnesota Vikings’ draft position.
Which means, of course, for the better part of the season, the Eagles have been rooting for Bradford & Minnesota to fail. After starting 5-0, the Vikings have done just that. They’re now 7-8, winning just 20 percent of their last 10 games, and with one game left in the season, they sit at No. 14 in the league’s draft order.
Can you imagine telling an NFL general manager they’d be trading the No. 14 pick in the upcoming draft for Sam Bradford, circa 2016? Most personnel men in the league would find very tall buildings and leap.
And yet that is exactly what Howie Roseman convinced Rick Spielman to do this past September, which is incredible.
What’s even more incredible is the pick could reach No. 9, if everything goes right.
The Panthers, who currently sit at No. 9 with a 6-9 record, can be caught by the Vikings (and, by extension, the Eagles) because of the strength of the schedule tiebreaker. The Panthers have faced a substantially stronger schedule than the Vikings this season. With Carolina facing Tampa Bay and Minnesota facing the Bears, things will stay that way.
So here’s the current draft order, from picks 9-14:
9. Carolina Panthers: 6-9
Strength of Schedule
10. Cleveland Browns (from PHI): 6-9
Strength of Schedule: 0.562
11. Arizona Cardinals: 6-8-1
Strength of Schedule: 0.464
12. Buffalo Bills: 7-8
Strength of Schedule: 0.481
13. Indianapolis Colts: 7-8
Strength of Schedule: 0.494
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN): 7-8
Strength of Schedule: 0.498
If the Panthers, Eagles, Cardinals, Bills, and Colts all win in Week 17, while the Vikings lose, the Eagles will pick No. 10 come April.
The No. 10 pick!
So, let’s look at how likely that is:
9. Carolina Panthers (6-9)
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are still fighting for playoff relevancy, even if it is a long shot, which means they’ll put up their best fight against Carolina. The Panthers, on the other hand, would very much like to not follow up their Super Bowl appearance with a 10-loss season, so they too will be putting up a good fight against a divisional opponent. I think the Bucs win, but this one can go either way.
Likelihood of Panthers winning: 50%
10. Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)
vs. Dallas Cowboys
Things got a lot easier for the Eagles when the Cardinals beat the Seahawks on Saturday. The Cowboys clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC with that result, which means Dak Prescott and Dallas have absolutely nothing to play for when they arrive in Philadelphia for the final game of the Eagles’ season.
Carson Wentz and the Birds, on the other hand, want to end the season on a high note.
It’s basically a perfect recipe for an Eagles win. (Which means they’ll lose, right?)
Likelihood of Eagles winning: 80%
11. Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1)
@ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams lost to the 49ers twice this season. The 49ers have beaten zero other teams. The Rams are also willingly starting Jared Goff, who seems to be very bad at football. After Arizona managed to beat a very talented Seattle team, I have a feeling they’ll be able to swing the same against a woeful Rams team.
Likelihood of Cardinals winning: 90%
12. Buffalo Bills (7-8)
@ New York Jets
The Jets were intentionally rolling Bryce Petty out as their starting quarterback. He got hurt, so they trotted Ryan Fitzpatrick out against the Patriots. Fitzpatrick was somehow worse than Petty, who was literally sitting in the locker room with an injury. The Jets are awful, and the Bills, while not all that good, should absolutely win this game.
Likelihood of Bills winning: 85%
13. Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville fired its head coach and then beat a Tennessee Titans team which was, at the time, two games over .500. That was kind of surprising. Still, the Jaguars were so bad this year that ownership couldn’t even wait two weeks to fire Gus Bradley, so things are probably in Andrew Luck & Co.’s favor.
Likelihood of Colts winning: 60%
14. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
vs. Chicago Bears
This is the most tenuous of the five matchups, and also the most important. If the Vikings win against the Bears, nothing we’ve talked about in this post matters. And if the Vikings win, the Eagles’ pick could conceivably fall all the way to No. 18. But we won’t discuss that right now.
We’re thinking positive thoughts.
The Vikings have lost eight of their last 10 games, including four of their last five. The first time Minnesota played the Bears (albeit with Jay Cutler as Chicago’s quarterback instead of Matt Barkley), Bradford’s team lost, 20-10, to a team which now stands 3-12. And Sam Bradford has never won anything meaningful in the NFL in his entire life. So, while it’s not necessarily likely that Chicago wins, it’s definitely possible.
Likelihood of Bears winning: 40%
And there you have it. The Eagles can draft anywhere between No. 18 and No. 9. They’ll likely fall somewhere in between.
But it sure is fun to imagine the Eagles grabbing a Top 10 pick in exchange for Sam Bradford, isn’t it?