Sean Pendergast

Ramifications of Final Two Games on Texans NFL Draft Scenarios

Nick Caserio  and his staff are going through all of the 2023 draft scenarios.
Nick Caserio and his staff are going through all of the 2023 draft scenarios. Photo by Jack Gorman
While watching the Houston Texans do some historically bad things for about a two-month period between Weeks 6 and 13 of the NFL season was painful and infuriating, at least there was clarity in the failure. If the Texans kept giving up 200 yards on the ground, while generating less than 50 in the first half of all these games, then you just lose out, get the No. 1 overall pick, and fire everybody.

Simple as that, as Lovie Smith likes to say (ALL THE TIME).

Then, a funny thing happened on the way to Arlington to play the Cowboys. The Texans somewhere picked up some competence. They were some horrific, fourth quarter play calling away from upsetting the Cowboys. The next week they took the Chiefs to overtime. On Saturday, they broke through and actually upset the Titans.

Now, there are two very winnable games remaining against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts.  Winning those two games has very tangible ramifications on the Texans' draft capital, and some more subjective ramifications on the job security of team luminaries. We examined Lovie Smith's job security (or lack thereof) yesterday, so let's take a look at the more math driven department of the Texans' draft picks.

As of Tuesday morning, following the Colts' 20-3 loss to the Chargers, here is what the draft order looks like:
1. Houston 2-12-1
2. Chicago 3-12
3. Denver 4-11
4. Arizona 4-11
5. Indianapolis 4-10-1
6. Atlanta 5-10
7. LA Rams 5-10
8. Carolina 6-9
9. Las Vegas 6-9
10. New Orleans 6-9
11. Cleveland 6-9
Okay, so what are the key things to know about the draft order going into the final week:

With a Bears win and a Texans loss this weekend, and everything else is moot
Before we lay out the "magic number" for the Texans to hit the draft jackpot, and secure the first overall pick, we should point out the Bears' schedule the rest of the way, since they are the closest team to gumming up the works for us Bryce Young fans out there.

The Bears close the season at Detroit and hosting the Vikings. Like the Texans, the Bears will be underdogs in each of those games, although the Texans' schedule is decidedly easier, as the Lions are still fighting for the playoffs and the Vikings are a playoff team already. The one wild card is Week 18 for the Vikings, where they may be resting starters for the postseason. The simple way to view this, if you want the Texans to pick first overall is that they will secure that "honor" with one more loss and one more Bears win. SIMPLE AS THAT!

The lowest the Texans will be picking is fifth overall
In the worst case scenario, draft wise, the Texans would win out, and the remaining teams with four or fewer wins — Chicago, Denver, Arizona, Indianapolis — would lose out. In that instance, the Texans would finish in a tie with the Indianapolis Colts at 4-12-1. The tie breaker for draft slot has nothing to do with head to head record (the Texans would be 1-0-1 in that scenario, for what it's worth). Draft slot ties are broken by strength of schedule, with the team with a weaker schedule getting the higher pick. In a tie with the Colts, all signs point to the Texans getting the higher pick, but it's not a certainty. So the worst case scenario with the Texans' pick right now is fifth overall.

Oh yeah, how about that Cleveland pick from the Deshaun Watson trade?
And let's not forget that the Texans also have another first round pick thanks to Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns. Since taking the reins in Week 13 for the Browns, Watson has been nothing short of awful at quarterback for the Browns, but the team has managed to go 2-2 in Watson's four starts. Right now, the pick is slotted at 11th overall. The Browns finish the season with road games at Washington and at Pittsburgh, two games in which they will be underdogs, so there is a great chance the Texans will be sitting on two top ten picks in next year's draft.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast