The NY Jets have competition at the bottom for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 0-8 NY Jets are halfway home. They are eight losses away from becoming the sixth team in NFL history to finish a season winless and the third team in NFL history to finish at 0-16.
The 2020 Jets would enter an infamous hall of shame sharing space and history with the 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0-11-1), the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14), the 1982 Baltimore Colts (0-8-1), the 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16), and the 2017 Cleveland Browns (0-16).
The Jets’ fanbase doesn’t have much to root for this season. Outside of getting the opportunity to see young players develop like Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims, running the table in reverse is now the fanbase’s only hope to make 2020 mean something for the franchise’s future.
New York’s remaining eight games are as follows — Monday night against New England, at the Chargers, home for Miami and Las Vegas, at Seattle and the Rams, home for Cleveland, and at New England to end their misery.
Enduring all the losses and ridicule will be difficult but in the long run. It’s what’s best for business. All the Jets have to do is continue being the best at being the worst.
The hope is that their worst will lead the star crossed franchise to its biggest superstar ever in Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The kind of savior that the Jets have craved since Joe Namath.
The way to ensure that the Jets land the most coveted prize in loser land is to go 0-16. The reality is that the Jets might have to go winless to guarantee the first overall pick.
The team with the lowest strength of schedule would win a tiebreaker for a higher draft pick. The Jets’ current strength of schedule at .593 hurts their chances if they manage to pull off the impossible and win a game or two.
The old saying goes that it’s lonely at the top. The Jets are currently alone at rock bottom, but they could have some company joining them.
Let’s look at the four teams that directly threaten the Jets’ chances of getting the first overall pick.
Next: 4. Houston Texans
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4. The Houston Texans can challenge the NY Jets for the No. 1 overall pick
- 1-6 record
- Strength of schedule: .565
By virtue of the Laremy Tunsil deal, the Miami Dolphins own this pick and stand to gain the most from the Houston Texans finishing this season as poorly as possible.
It’s funny, a year ago, at this time, the Dolphins were winless and labeled as the ‘Tank For Tua’ team. Miami beat the Jets in Week 9 and ended up finishing at 5-11 last year. In the end, it didn’t matter. The result was that Miami still got Tua Tagovailoa without tanking.
Even if a team like Miami has no designs whatsoever in drafting a franchise quarterback, obtaining the first overall pick in the 2021 Draft is worth its weight in gold.
Miami already has two first and second-round picks in next year’s draft. They would be in a position to set a ransom for the first-overall pick and add even more building blocks to their roster if the Texans continue to falter.
The Texans fit into the category of ‘which one of these is not like the other.’ Of all the one-win teams in the NFL, Houston has the best player in Deshaun Watson. Typically, teams with that type of quarterback on their roster are not 1-6. Houston’s failings around him cost Bill O’Brien his job.
So why list a one-win team like Houston behind another team that has two wins already?
It’s simple. Houston is less of a threat to land the first overall pick because the Texans have no motivation as a franchise to tank as some other teams do.
There’s no benefit in them losing out. Houston has played hard this year under interim coach Romeo Crennel. They want to win as many games as possible.
The Texans can greatly affect the overall draft order starting with this weekend’s game against the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars. Barring a tie, one of those two teams will notch their second win of the season.
Houston also has the Cincinnati Bengals at home later in the season, but judging by how well the 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow is playing, Cincy might win the game, and a player like Burrow is why teams are looking to lose as much as possible.
Another opponent on the Texans remaining schedule, New England, is a surprise entrant in the first pick sweepstakes, and they are next on this list of teams.
Next: 3. New England Patriots
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3. The New England Patriots can challenge the NY Jets for the No. 1 overall pick
- 2-5 record
- Strength of schedule: .521
There are currently seven teams with two wins in the NFL: the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Football Team, Minnesota Vikings, Bengals, and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Jets have a two-game lead on all these teams with eight games left to play. Cincinnati has a tie on their ledger, so New York owns a larger lead on them.
It may seem crazy to single out the Patriots as one of the top threats to the Jets’ chances of landing the first overall pick. However, upon further inspection, no team will directly affect the Jets’ chances of going winless more than the Patriots.
After all, New England plays New York twice in their final eight games. In fact, the Jets and Pats meet next Monday night. The 2020 season ends mercifully for the Jets traveling to Foxborough.
2020 has been one of the strangest years in memory, and seeing New England fall from grace so quickly has been shocking. Even without Tom Brady, the feeling was that the genius Bill Belichick would figure out a way to keep his team in contention.
His history of doing more with less is why Canton may carve out a separate wing for him when the time comes.
Things have fallen apart for the Patriots quickly and it’s more than just the departure of Tom Brady. COVID-19 hit New England before and during this season.
A league-high eight Patriots opted out of 2020 because of the pandemic. Among them were linebacker Dont’a Hightower and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon.
Early on this season, Cam Newton appeared to be on track as a Comeback Player of the Year candidate before he came down with the coronavirus.
Another key player on New England, Julian Edelman, tried to play with a bad knee for as long as possible but ended up having surgery and is now on injured reserve.
The truth is that the Patriots’ roster is not that much better or different than the Jets. One glance at New England and New York’s wide receivers will provide the evidence to further that statement.
Even with an expanded playoff field this season, there are hints that the Patriots might be positioning themselves for the future rather than trying to get into contention.
There are reports as of this writing that New England is shopping their all-world cornerback Stephon Gilmore. It doesn’t look like Bill Belichick is all in on 2020.
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Could New England thrust themselves into the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes? It’s not impossible. Losing to the Jets twice would help further that cause.
The Patriots have the Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills left on their remaining schedule.
They also play the 1-6 Texans and the 2-5 Chargers. One way to ensure a seat at the very bottom is to lose to the teams that share the same space that you do.
Two decades ago, Belichick changed the course of history for two franchises by leaving the Jets at the altar and starting a dynasty with the Pats. In 2020, Belichick can once again affect New York’s future by losing to them twice.
And even if the Patriots don’t land the first overall pick, they can ensure that the Jets won’t either.
Next: 2. New York Giants
2. The New York Giants can challenge the NY Jets for the No. 1 overall pick
- 1-7 record
- Strength of schedule: .537
To the New York Giants’ credit, they have been very competitive all season, as evidenced by their loss on Monday night, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped with a 25-23 victory.
Despite many issues on both sides of the ball, Joe Judge’s Giants team has played hard all year. The way that the Giants have played this season indicates that they are due for another victory at some point the rest of the way.
New York’s schedule isn’t that difficult. They play a 2-5 Washington team this coming weekend — a team that they beat earlier this year. Also on the Giants docket the rest of the way are games against Cincinnati and Dallas.
However, former Giants and Jets head coach Bill Parcells once famously said, “You are what your record says you are.” The Giants have consistently found ways to lose games. Most of the time, it’s been because the teams New York lost to were better than them.
The Giants’ sole victory this season came because ‘Riverboat’ Ron Rivera lived up to his billing and opted to go for two rather than go into overtime.
Being competitive is one thing, but winning games has been very hard for the Giants. The effort is there, but the overall talent isn’t. Until proven otherwise, the Giants will keep losing games in the same fashion they already have for the rest of the season.
Despite both teams having two young franchise signal-callers in Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold, respectively. Like the Jets, the Giants will face an offer that they can’t refuse if they land the first overall pick. Both New York teams will have no choice but to draft Trevor Lawrence, a once in a lifetime quarterback.
Based on their losing ways and their weaker strength of schedule, the Giants would finish ahead of the Jets in the draft order if they ended up with the same record at the end of the season.
Finishing ahead of the Jets in New York is something that the Giants have a long history of. Watching Trevor Lawrence play for a decade-plus in New York for the Giants would continue that trend for the Jets as second-class citizens in their own town.
Next: 1. Jacksonville Jaguars
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Jacksonville Jaguars can challenge the NY Jets for the No. 1 overall pick
- 1-6 record
- Strength of schedule: .543
Before the season started, no team in the NFL looked like a better candidate for the first overall pick than the Jacksonville Jaguars. As a matter of fact, it appeared to many that the specific design of the 2020 team was for that reason.
In the last two years, many of the Jaguars who helped bring Jacksonville to an AFC Championship game were traded away or let go. Players like Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Leonard Fournette, etc.
For a moment there, cult-favorite quarterback Gardner Minshew looked like a real find and someone that the Jags could build around but very quickly, the tide has turned on his prospects as a long-term answer. Minshew is injured, and the Jaguars are turning to sixth-round draft pick Jake Luton at QB.
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While the rookie Luton displayed some upside at Oregon State, Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone’s endorsement of Luton doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. “We might as well look” was Doug Marrone’s reasoning of why Jake Luton will be starting this Sunday.
In football speak, “We might as well look” translates to our season is lost, so why the hell not?
Perhaps Jake Luton shocks the world and proves to be a diamond in the rough. Still, the more likely scenario is that the Jaguars are conceding that their season is no longer about winning games but more about getting young players playing time.
In the NFL, the term any given Sunday applies, but when you look at the Jaguars schedule, it’s hard to find wins beyond this weekend’s pivotal draft order game with 1-6 Houston.
Jacksonville plays Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago, and Tennessee. The ‘winnable’ games on the Jaguars schedule are home versus Cleveland and at Minnesota. Both of those teams are better than Jacksonville.
If Jacksonville loses as expected this Sunday against Houston, there’s a real possibility that they don’t win another game this season. 1-15 could get them the first overall pick.
It’s precisely why the NY Jets have to stick to the script and keep on losing. They can’t afford to win a single game this year.
The franchise has too much to lose if they don’t keep on losing.