ALAMEDA, Calif. – Strength of schedule, rather than head-to-head play, is the biggest determining factor in breaking ties between teams with the same record when it comes to determining draft order.
And it’s the reason the Oakland Raiders went from drafting third a week ago – if the NFL draft were held after 14 games – to fourth now, even as they are one of six teams currently with four wins, along with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings.
So with one game remaining in the regular season – at home Sunday against the AFC West champion Denver Broncos, who can clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a victory – where are the 4-11 Raiders most likely to have their first selection come May?
Well, according to ESPN Stats & Information, if Washington loses to the New York Giants on Sunday, the Raiders can go no higher than third overall, behind the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, who hold Washington’s first-round pick.
Then, it mostly depends upon what happens with the Raiders and the Jaguars, who play at the Indianapolis Colts. If both the Raiders and Jaguars lose their finales, the Raiders would pick after the Jaguars since Oakland would maintain a higher strength of schedule.
But if the Raiders and all of the other four-win teams were to lose, Oakland could fall as low as eighth overall.