By late November, a handful of NFL teams have accepted the fact that their playoff hopes are finished, and that what they’re really playing for is a high pick in next year’s NFL draft. Two of those teams are the Jaguars and Texans, who play each other twice in the next two weeks.
The 1-9 Jaguars have been widely regarded all season as the worst team in the league and the most likely owners of the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. And if the draft order were determined today, the Jaguars would, in fact, have the first overall pick.
But the Texans are one of four 2-8 teams (along with the Vikings, Falcons and Buccaneers) that are hot on the Jaguars’ heels. And the Texans, who host the Jaguars on Sunday and then visit Jacksonville on Thursday, December 5, have an opportunity to move themselves ahead of Jacksonville in the draft order by choking twice against their division rivals.
It will be fascinating to see how NFL Network presents that Week 14 Texans-Jags game, which might be the worst prime time game in NFL history. Will they try to spin it as quality football, or just have color commentator Mike Mayock put on his draft analyst hat and spend most of the night discussing the possibilities for the first overall pick?
The Texans are 10-point favorites on Sunday (think about how bad the Jaguars are that they’re the biggest underdogs in the NFL this week, and they’re playing a 2-8 team), so the most likely outcome is that Houston will win and take a step away from the first overall pick, and the Jaguars will take a step toward clinching it. But if the Jaguars pull an upset, the race for the first overall pick will be wide open. And that may be the only reason to watch the Jaguars-Texans rematch in two weeks.