With just five weeks left in the regular season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. And, of course, the race to the bottom is gaining clarity as well.
With some help from the Football Outsiders’ DVOA On the Clock report, let’s run down some of the candidates for the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft:
Arizona Cardinals (30.8% chance of No. 1 pick, 88.8% chance of top-five pick)
Sunday’s contest between the Cardinals and Raiders was not exactly must-watch television, but it did carry serious NFL Draft implications. By losing 23-21 to Jon Gruden‘s squad, the Cardinals became the most likely team to net the top pick in the spring. Ideally, the Cardinals would like to end the season on a higher note, but their fans aren’t necessarily of the same mind. The Cardinals’ final six games come against the Chargers, Packers, Lions, Falcons, Rams, and Seahawks, which is not exactly a cupcake schedule.
Oakland Raiders (28.6% chance of No. 1 pick, 90.6% chance of top-five pick)
Sunday’s win was a slight blow to the Raiders’ chances of picking first, but don’t tell that to Gruden & Co. Things haven’t gone as planned this year, so they’ll take positives wherever they can get them, even if it’s a W in a meaningless November game. The Raiders’ secondary stepped up in a big way against Arizona, but the pass rush is clearly missing the game-changing talent of Khalil Mack. From here on out, wins could be harder to come by with two games against the Chiefs (twice), Steelers, and Bengals.
San Francisco 49ers (27.6% chance of No. 1 pick, 83.9% chance of top-five pick)
The Niners’ Week 10 loss to the Giants was bad for morale, but it greatly increased their chances of hitting the podium first. After their bye, the Niners will return to face the Buccaneers, which is either a good or bad matchup depending on which way you want the team to go as a San Francisco fan. The 49ers’ offense has not looked the same without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon, but they still have some firepower thanks to the emergence of tight end George Kittle. They’re effectively in a three-horse race for the top choice, but they might not be the smart pick in this poll thanks to a relatively easy schedule down the stretch.
New York Jets (4.7% chance of No. 1 pick, 50.5% chance of top-five pick)
This offseason will be one of tremendous change for the Jets. Head coach Todd Bowles seems likely to get the pink slip and GM Mike Maccagnan will have upwards of $100MM to spend on the open market. Will they also be armed with the No. 1 overall pick? The Jets have been putrid, for the most part, and their last outing against the Bills may have been the low point of the season. But with three wins at this stage of the season and a few winnable games ahead, the Jets are not the odds-on favorites to pick first.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3.5% chance of No. 1 pick, 41.7% chance of top-five pick)
The Buccaneers have flip-flopped between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick throughout the year with mixed results. Unfortunately, their problems have extended beyond the quarterback position and injuries have not helped matters either. One important thing to note is that both Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter are playing for their respective futures in Tampa. There will be no tanking here.
Outside of those clubs, the Bills (1.8% chance of No. 1 pick, 31.5% chance of top-five pick), Giants (1.3% chance of No. 1 pick, 27.4% chance of top-five pick), and other cellar-dwellers are in the mix for the top selection.
So, who will it be? Click below to cast your vote (link for app users) and back up your choice in the comments section.