Lions, Rams Race for No. 1 Pick
St. Louis is the only one-win team left in the league. If the Rams lose to San Francisco on Sunday, they would clinch that top pick and have first crack at Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh (pictured), who is just about unanimously the 2010 class' best available player.
Should the Rams knock off 7-8 San Francisco in St. Louis, though, the Lions could leapfrog them for the No. 1 slot.
That possibility is contingent on Detroit losing at home to Chicago. If the Lions win that game, they could slip to No. 3, pending the outcome of the Kansas City-Denver game.
Draft-slot tiebreakers rely first and foremost on strength of schedule, as opposed to head-to-head results or common opponents. St. Louis, for example, beat Detroit for its only win of the season, but that game would have almost no bearing on tiebreaking procedures should both teams finish 2-14.
Here's how the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker works: if multiple teams wind up with the same record, a team with an easier schedule would get the higher pick. In the case of St. Louis and Detroit, the Lions' opponents are 124-116 heading into Week 17, while the Rams' opponents are 126-114. As of right now, then, Detroit would win that tiebreaker -- obviously, that advantage could shift to St. Louis depending on Sunday's outcomes.
The strength-of-schedule tiebreaker also guarantees that Detroit can fall no lower than third in the draft. Tampa Bay (3-12) has a 10-win gap between itself and Detroit in strength-of-schedule (134-124), and cannot overcome that Sunday. Kansas City, whose opponents have won 125 games, could jump Detroit for the No. 2 pick, but also cannot fall to No. 4.
If there's a tie in strength-of-schedule, the second tiebreaker is conference record -- should St. Louis beat San Francisco, the Rams would have two NFC wins to Detroit's one (assuming a loss to Chicago), which would push the Lions to the No. 1 pick as well.
Detroit used the No. 1 pick last season to draft quarterback Matthew Stafford. No team has had back-to-back No. 1 overall picks since Cleveland in 1999-2000 -- the Browns wound up with Tim Couch and Courtney Brown.