Where do Bears land in NFL draft order? It's becoming clearer

With two weeks remaining in the NFL season, the Bears’ spot in the 2017 draft order is starting to come into focus. They would have the fourth overall pick if the season ended after Week 15, which, of course, it doesn’t.

As many as 32 game results are needed to finalize teams’ win totals and strength-of-schedule tiebreaker rankings. But let’s take a closer look at where the Bears stand through Week 15 and where they might end up.

To reiterate, the Bears would pick fourth if the season ended after Week 15. This isn’t the most accurate projection of the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker, but let’s look at the current top 10 anyway. For teams with the same record, their strength of schedule (the combined winning percentage of their first 14 opponents) is included. Remember, if teams have the same win-loss record, the team with the easier strength of schedule picks higher:

1. Browns (0-14)
2. 49ers (1-13)
3. Jaguars (2-12)
4. Bears (3-11)
5. Jets (4-10) (.492)
6. Rams (4-10) (.538)
7. Eagles (5-9) (.536)
8. Chargers (5-9) (.566)
9. Cardinals (5-8-1) (.464)
10. Bengals (5-8-1) (.513)

The problem with the order listed above is that those strength-of-schedule percentages are going to change, significantly for some teams, over the final two weeks. For example, in Week 16 the Jets play the Patriots while the Rams play the 49ers. That’ll add 12 wins to the Jets’ opponents’ win total and only one to the Rams’.

We get a clearer projection for full-season strength of schedule (as opposed to using the Week 15 percentages) by totaling the wins of all 16 opponents for each team. If we use full-season opponent win total to break ties, here’s what the top 10 would look like. Every team's full-season opponent win total is listed.

1. Browns (0-14) 124.5
2. 49ers (1-13) 114
3. Jaguars (2-12) 122
4. Bears (3-11) 116.5
5. Rams (4-10) 112
6. Jets (4-10) 115.5
7. Chargers (5-9) 121
8. Eagles (5-9) 127
9. Cardinals (5-8-1) 104.5
10. Bengals (5-8-1) 116.5

Notice the combined win total of all 16 Bears opponents (116.5) is greater than that of the Rams (112) and Jets (115.5). So if the Bears were to win again and tie the Rams and Jets on four wins, there’s a good chance they would drop in the draft order behind the Rams and/or Jets.

It’s too difficult to project exactly because there are so many remaining games affecting all three teams’ opponent win totals. But, usually, not much changes in strength-of-schedule rankings in Week 17 because every game is a divisional matchup. The full-season win total rankings are getting close to being locked in.

Also worth noting is that the Jaguars’ full-season opponent win total is greater than the Bears’. So if Jacksonville ties the Bears on three wins, the Bears would likely jump ahead of them in the order. Surely, the Bears would have loved for the Jaguars to have held onto their third-quarter lead against the Texans on Sunday.

All of this can be confusing, and it’s complicated because every game has a ripple effect in other teams' strength of schedule. But hopefully you can see how the Bears could jump or fall from their current spot fairly easily. Let’s continue to watch it play out.

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