Heading into the Week 16 slate, the Houston Texans had about an 84% chance of getting the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft per ESPN’s Football Power Index. The Chicago Bears? They were in the lower teens.
Still, the Texans had been feisty against the Cowboys and Chiefs in their previous two contests. And by gosh, Houston knocked off a divisional rival last week in the Tennessee Titans.
While damaging the playoff aspirations of a rival can offer some reprieve through vengeance, it diluted their chance of getting the No. 1 pick to about 55%. The Bears fell to the Bills, and in doing so, elevated their chances of the first pick to approximately 35%. Who will win the race to be on the clock in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Note: There are outside chances for the Seattle Seahawks [via the Denver Broncos] and Arizona Cardinals — we’ll update this accordingly should those scenarios gain traction in Week 17. Be sure to also check out the entire updated 2023 NFL Draft order for Round 1.
4:00 PM ET Update: Both the Texans and Bears lost in Week 17. They are both in play for the number one overall pick heading into Week 18.
How Do the Texans Clinch the First Overall Pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The safest scenario to acquire the draft’s first overall pick is the Texans losing their remaining two games (vs. JAX, @ IND). The other slam-dunk situation is a Texans loss (vs. JAX) + a Bears win (@ DET) in Week 17.
Conversely, the nightmare for Houston is winning against the Jaguars (who are facing a win-and-in scenario with the Titans in Week 18 and might be looking ahead) and the Bears losing to the Lions. This would flop the order to the Bears being the front-runner for the No. 1 pick heading into Week 18 — it would be the Texans on the outside looking in.
How Do the Bears Clinch the First Overall Pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?
If the Bears lose their remaining two games (@ DET, vs. MIN) and the Texans win either of their two remaining games (vs. JAX, @ IND), Chicago would win the rights to the first overall pick. Should they win either of those two games, it would not only complicate matters with the Texans but also with the Seahawks (via the 4-11 Broncos) and the Cardinals.
A Bears win + a Texans win would push the race into Week 18 and muddy the waters (especially if the Broncos and Cardinals lose in Week 17). Who knew back in Week 3 that the Bears’ 23-20 win against the Texans would have such gravity?!
In the event the Bears tie in Week 17 and the Texans win, both teams will have identical 3-12-1 records, ripping a hole in the space/time continuum. However, the Texans currently own the first tiebreaker for teams tied for the No. 1 spot: strength of schedule. The tiebreaker goes to the team with the easier schedule. Houston (.504) is ahead of Chicago (.558, ranked second-hardest in the league) at the current juncture.
While the chances of both teams’ SOS being tied by the end of Week 18 are about the same as my children voluntarily cleaning up their rooms, here is how the remaining tiebreakers would be sorted (courtesy of the NFL Operations manual):
If the teams have the same strength of schedule, division or conference tiebreakers are applied. If the divisional or conference tiebreakers are not applicable, or ties still exist between teams of different conferences, ties will be broken by the following tie-breaking method:
- Head-to-head, if applicable
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games (minimum of four)
- Strength of victory in all games
- Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games
- Best net points in all games
- Best net touchdowns in all games
- Coin toss
The Texans and Bears can go in a lot of directions in the 2023 NFL Draft. What would you do? Take a spin on PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator and make all the decisions.