If the NFL season ended today, the Cincinnati Bengals would own the No. 8 pick in the draft with their 5-9 record.
But they could climb into the top five if they lose their two remaining games vs. Detroit and at Baltimore to finish 5-11.
The highest the Bengals can pick is third behind Cleveland (0-14) and New York Giants (2-12).
The tiebreaker the NFL uses to determine draft position is strength of schedule, and that will benefit the Bengals should they finished with the same record as another team.
The 14 opponents the Bengals have played thus far have a combined record of 81-101 for a .445 winning percentage that ranks 30th in the league.
Here is how the draft order stands heading into Week 16:
1. Cleveland (0-14)
2. New York Giants (2-12)
3. Indianapolis (3-11)
4. Cleveland, via Houston (4-10)
5. San Francisco (4-10)
6. Chicago (4-10)
7. Tampa Bay (4-10)
8. Cincinnati (5-9)
9. Denver (5-9)
10. New York Jets (5-9)
In order to ascend to the No. 3 pick, the Bengals would need to lose their final two games and have Indianapolis win its last two Saturday at Baltimore and Dec. 31 at home against Houston).
The odds of that happening are pretty remote, but the Bengals easily can climb higher than No. 8 by losing their last two games. If that happens, they should jump ahead of any current 4-10 teams who end up winning at least one more game based on the strength of schedule tiebreaker.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page
Here is a look at the four 4-10 teams, their opponents’ current win-loss record, their next two opponents’ win-loss record and their remaining schedule.
Houston (89-93, 14-14) vs. Pittsburgh, at Indianapolis
San Francisco (85-97, 20-8) vs. Jacksonville, at LA Rams
Chicago (104-78, 11-17) vs. Cleveland, at Minnesota
Tampa Bay (96-86, 20-8) at Carolina, vs. New Orleans