While others were talking about playoff possibilities/chances for the Buffalo Bills last week, I was not thinking about it at all. But I was fully prepared to do a story this week, breaking down remaining schedules for all of the teams in the hunt for that final wild card spot with the Bills, who were going to be 5-7 and just one game out with four to go. Then the Bills went out and lost to Atlanta. Instead of 5-7, the Bills are 4-8. Instead of a story about the playoff race, this is a story about the draft order. You know, the same one we're always talking about at this point of the season.
The Bills currently hold down the ninth spot in the draft. Their 4-8 record is actually tied with Oakland and Cleveland but they are behind the Raiders and Browns in the draft order due to the tiebreaker. When it comes to draft order, the NFL uses reverse strength of schedule. The team that has the easier schedule gets the higher spot. In theory, since you had the easier schedule then you aren't as good as the other team or teams with an identical record so you draft before they do.
Going into week 14, here is the top ten in terms of draft order with their strength of schedule, to this point, in parenthesis: 1. Houston 2-10(.556) 2. Washington 3-9 (.521) ****this pick belongs to St. Louis from 2012 trade 3. Jacksonville 3-9 (.528) 4. Atlanta 3-9 (.556) 5. Tampa Bay 3-9 (.590) 6. Minnesota 3-8-1(.514) 7. Oakland 4-8 (.479) 8. Cleveland 4-8 (.493) 9. Buffalo 4-8 (.542) 10. Pittsburgh 5-7 (.469)
If you are now in "let's get as far up as possible in the draft" mode, there's good news on the Bills schedule the next two weeks. They will face two of the teams currently ahead of them in the draft order with games at Tampa Bay(Sunday) and Jacksonville(week 15). The Bills finish the regular season with a home game against Miami and then a trip to New England. As you can see, the Bills will likely lose out in tie breakers with Oakland and Cleveland and perhaps Minnesota but their strength of schedule percentage is in line with the other teams ahead of them.
Here is the rundown of remaining games for the teams in front of the Bills in the draft order:
Houston: at Jacksonville, at Indianapolis, Denver, at Tennessee Washington: Kansas City, at Atlanta, Dallas, at NY Giants Jacksonville: Houston, Buffalo, Tennessee, at Indianapolis Atlanta: at Green Bay, Washington, at San Francisco, Carolina Tampa Bay: Buffalo, San Francisco, at St. Louis, at New Orleans Minnesota: at Baltimore, Philadelphia, at Cincinnati, Detroit Oakland: at NY Jets, Kansas City, at San Diego, Denver Cleveland: at New England, Chicago, at NY Jets, at Pittsburgh
Now the bad news(only if you are hoping the Bills lose games and move up in the draft). Buffalo's remaining opponents are a combined 21-27 (.437) giving the Bills the second easiest schedule over the final four weeks of the season. Only Jacksonville, 19-29(.395), has a softer slate based on the current records of their opponents.
As far as the draft and who could be on the board for the Bills with a top ten pick, here are some names, depending on what position you'd like to see them address:
Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins, Clemson(junior) Mike Evans, Texas A and M(junior) Marquise Lee, USC
Tight End: Eric Ebron, North Carolina(junior) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington(junior)
Linebacker: Anthony Barr, UCLA Khalil Mack, UB CJ Mosley, Alabama
Offensive Tackle: Jake Matthews, Texas A and M(junior) Taylor Lewan, Michigan Cyrus Kouandjo, Alabama (junior)