Thanks to their trade with the Carolina Panthers, the Chicago Bears have the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft should the season have ended after 13 weeks. But the Arizona Cardinals could have the likeliest chance to win the Number 1 pick thanks to one key metric: Remaining strength of schedule.
For the Bears to earn the top pick, the Panthers must finish with a record or tiebreaker worse than the Cardinals and the NFL’s other two-win team, the New England Patriots. But things don’t look so hot for the Panthers remaining strength of schedule, since it sits at a measly 0.470.
Carolina also plays in the lowly NFC South, and they still face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers twice, the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Green Bay Packers. Not the most intimidating opponents out there, especially since the only team they will face with a winning record is the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals have just five more chances to snag another win, and they have the fourth-toughest schedule in the league across the last month-and-a-half of the regular season. Overall, their five remaining opponents boast a collective winning percentage of 0.625, and only the Bears have a losing record.
Remaining strength of schedule favors Arizona Cardinals for top pick
The Cards must play the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, and they also have games against the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks. Therefore, Jonathan Gannon and Company will have their work cut out for them.
But for the contingent of Arizona Cardinals fans who wanted to see the team earn the first overall pick, there is still a good chance they get their wish. Not to say that this will happen, as the Cards can still pull off an upset or two, or that Week 18 game may be so meaningless to the Seahawks that they give the Redbirds the game.
We don’t know, but as it stands, the Cards have a good chance to land that top selection. As for the Patriots, who are also in the running for the first pick, their remaining strength of schedule sits at 0.522, the 13th toughest in the league.