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Thursday, December 31, 2009
DraftWatch: The Lions and No. 1

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

As we’ve discussed before, ties for NFL draft order are broken using reverse order of strength of schedule. We can’t determine the final numbers until the season is over, but I think we can say this with some certainty: Detroit remains in the running for the No. 1 overall pick.

As of today, the Lions are in the No. 2 position. But if they lose Sunday to Chicago, and St. Louis wins at home against San Francisco, they would finish tied for the worst record in the NFL. Week 17 has yet to be played, so we don’t know the final strength of schedule numbers. But through Week 16, here’s the way it stands for the potential top four teams in the draft:

1. St. Louis Rams (1-14) : .525
2. Detroit Lions (2-13): .517
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12): .558
4. Kansas City Chiefs (3-12) : .521

(Remember, strength of schedule is the combined winning percentage of a team’s opponents.)

I think you all have figured out by now that I’m no math major, so I would welcome your challenges to this assumption. The Lions are ahead in strength of schedule, but the numbers are close enough that the tiebreaker could go either way if they finish tied with the Rams at 2-14.

If that were the case, and the Lions' strength of schedule remains higher, the Lions would have the No. 1 overall pick.

Sunday is going to be a busy day on a number of levels here in the NFC North, but strength of schedule will be one of the many threads we monitor. You’ll know as soon as we know where the Lions will pick in the draft.