It comes down to two teams. Week 17’s action eliminated all outside chances for any other team to have rights to the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — it’s either the Houston Texans or Chicago Bears. How does each team secure the No. 1 pick?
Update: Chicago Bears Clinch First Overall Pick in 2023 NFL Draft
The Texans sure made things interesting in Week 18’s 1:00 window. While the Bears struggled with the Minnesota Vikings, Houston came out clicking, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. And they’d still have a 10-point lead deep into the second half, with a Jordan Akins TD setting up a 24-14 Texans advantage. In fact, the Texans had a 91.5% chance of winning the game per ESPN’s in-game win probability.
However, the Colts would rattle off 17 unanswered points, including a Colts defensive touchdown at the tail end of the third quarter. The game was over.
Until it wasn’t.
The Texans would score a deep pass down the middle to Akins on 4th-and-20 under a minute in the fourth quarter, getting the score to 30-31 (Colts up). Houston went for the jugular (AKA the two-point conversion) to take the lead, Akins again being the center of attention. He’d catch the pass, and the Texans went up 32-31. They’d hold the lead this time. And in doing so, the Texans bestow the rights of the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Bears. Was the win worth it to Houston? We’ll find out!
How Do the Texans Clinch the First Overall Pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Lose. That’s all the Texans have to do. They’ve done it 13 times already this season and lost their last game by 28 points — should be straightforward, right?
Well, Houston takes on a divisional foe in Week 18. Sometimes you want a divisional foe to feel pain for the sake of doing so, like a younger sibling setting their sights on revenge and wanting it to be as cold-blooded as possible.
As fun as bringing misery to an adversary can be, Houston risks losing the first overall pick if they win and the Bears lose. Plus, the Texans are taking on a Colts team who could have their own motivations to boost their draft stock parallel to a shaky quarterback and coaching situation.
To add further precariousness to Houston’s first-overall-pick situation, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said QB Justin Fields suffered a hip injury and will not play in their Week 18 contest.
How Do the Bears Clinch the First Overall Pick in the 2023 NFL Draft?
A loss coupled with a Texans win. Several weeks ago, the Bears’ odds were more dire. But now? You might as well call it a coin flip at this point, which is ironic because that’s one of the tiebreakers — but we’ll get to that later.
Though the Bears will play at home, they’ll be taking on a Minnesota Vikings team still fighting for NFC playoff seeding. Nathan Peterman will be the Bears’ starting QB. Chicago is currently an eight-point home underdog, while the Texans are underdogs by less than a field goal.
If the Bears tie in Week 18 and the Texans win, both teams will have identical 3-13-1 records, ripping a hole in the space/time continuum. Corny dad jokes aside, the Texans currently own the first tiebreaker for the No. 1 spot: strength of schedule. The tiebreaker goes to the team with the easier schedule. Houston (.498) is ahead of Chicago (.555, highest in the league) at the current juncture.
Even if every outcome went in favor of Chicago and against Houston, the Bears cannot leapfrog them in the SOS tiebreaker. However, for your knowledge base’s sake, this 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 tiebreaking 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 many 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.