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The New England Patriots will do all they can to liquidate their 2020 season with a success over the New York Jets.

However a loss, combined with a few crucial outcomes around the league, might significantly boost their draft positioning.

The 6-9 Patriots presently own the 14th general choice in the 2021 NFL Draft when factoring in their full-season strength of schedule. Strength of schedule is the No. 1 draft-order tiebreaker, with the team that played the weaker schedule receiving the greater choice.

Six NFL teams enter Week 17 at 6-9. Of those, 4 rank lower than the Patriots in SOS: the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Football Team. Given that Washington presently leads the NFC East and all playoff teams select after all non-playoff teams, it’s slotted at No. 19 overall. (The Cowboys or New York City Giants might take over that spot depending upon what transpires this Sunday.).

There’s also one 5-10 team– the Denver Broncos– that has a more powerful SOS than the Patriots, meaning New England would leapfrog them if both finished with identical records.

Here’s a distilled appearance at this existing draft order:.

10. Denver Broncos (5-10;.567 strength of schedule).

11. Dallas Cowboys (6-9;.465).

12. Los Angeles Chargers (6-9;.490).

13. Minnesota Vikings (6-9;.508).

14. New England Patriots (6-9;.533).

15. San Francisco 49ers (6-9;.544).


19. Washington Football Group (6-9;.465).

So, what does this all indicate for the Patriots?

If they beat the Jets, it’s fairly simple. They’ll either stay at No. 14 or, if the 49ers lose to the Seattle Seahawks, drop to No. 15.

A loss, however, might offer them a more favorable pick, depending upon how the teams above them in the order fare.

Denver hosts the 7-8 Las Vegas Raiders, who were eliminated from playoff contention last week.

Dallas goes to the 5-10 Giants in a game with NFC East title implications (if Washington loses to the Philadelphia Eagles, the winner of this video game makes the playoffs).

The Chargers are at Kansas City. The 14-1 Chiefs have the No. 1 seed wrapped up and will be beginning backup quarterback Chad Henne to rest Patrick Mahomes.

Minnesota goes to a 5-10 Detroit Lions group that could be without starting QB Matthew Stafford.

The Patriots have lost each of their last 3 video games, have actually scored one overall touchdown during their losing streak and were missing 7 players at practice Wednesday, consisting of Devin McCourty, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and a bunch of linebackers. They also lost leading cornerback Stephon Gilmore for the season 2 weeks back.

The Jets are 2-13, but they’re coming off back-to-back wins over prospective playoff groups in the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns (albeit a Browns team that lacked its leading 4 receivers due to COVID-19 contact tracing). Adam Gase’s club likewise almost beat the Patriots in November, losing 30-27 on a last-second Nick Folk basket.

The ideal scenario for New England from a draft position point of view would involve a Patriots loss and wins by the Broncos, Cowboys, Chargers, Vikings and Washington. That would offer the Pats the 10th total choice. If the Patriots lose however all five of those groups do, too, they ‘d remain at 14. They also can wind up at No. 11, 12 or 13.

Obviously, the greater the choice, the more top-tier prospects the Patriots– who have requirements all over their lineup– would have to pick from. Likewise, if they’re thinking about trading up for among the leading non-Trevor Lawrence QB prospects (Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance), it would be considerably simpler to do so from, say, pick No. 11 than it would from No. 15. A higher pick also would yield a better return in case of a trade down.

The Patriots have drafted just three players in the leading 15 during the Expense Belichick age however struck on all of them, landing Richard Seymour (No. 6, 2000), Ty Warren (No. 13, 2003) and Jerod Mayo (No. 10, 2008). They also prepared Nate Solder 17th general in 2011, their only other top-20 selection.

Thumbnail image through Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images.