November 19, 2017

Niner Watch, Week Twelve

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

Hey, was that Niner Watch I saw mentioned in Mike Reiss’s mailbag today? Mike, you shouldn’t have!

It was an appreciated mention – and timely, as it turns out. Big doings on the old bottom feeder chart this week. Last Sunday, the surrogate mother of the Patriots’ first round draft pick, the 2-7 San Francisco 49’ers, reached down deep and lost a HUGE matchup with the 1-8 St Louis Rams – at home, mind you, as if the loss itself wasn’t enough – to vault themselves from last week’s fourth spot to the NUMBER TWO PICK IN THE NFL DRAFT, if it was held today.

Even better, the 1-8 New York Stoolies somehow managed to beat the Pittsburgh “We’ll stop them, America” Steelers in the Meadowlands, meaning that the Jets dropped from (last week) the pick just ahead of the Niners to (this week) the one three slots after them. I am still checking every twenty-minutes to make sure this wasn’t a mistake.

I’ve told you about my dream before, since Spygate – the Pats go undefeated, win Three Games to Glory, sign Randy Moss to a series of incentive-laden one year contracts (“$750,000 if you catch a touchdown pass between your knees.”), AND, just to send a disconsolate, embittered nation completely over the edge, the Pats get the number one pick in the draft, just ahead of the Jets.

So far, so good. Getting that first pick might be rough, in light of the historically awful Dolphins, but otherwise….I have a dream today.

Anyway, now we have the Niners, Rams, Raiders and Jets all tied at 2-8, but they get stacked on the basis of the second tiebreaker (after winning percentage), which is strength of schedule. Here, the Niners have all the advantage they need: their opponents have a meager .463 combined winning percentage, followed by the Rams at .506, the Raiders at .519, and the Jets at .538. Are these percentages going to swing that much to erase San Francisco’s advantage? The Niners’ remaining opponents are road games in Arizona (an improving 5-5) and Carolina (4-6, and they are horrible at home. This one worries me), then home games (where San Francisco is 1-4) with Minnesota (4-6), Cincinnati (3-7), and Tampa Bay (6-4), before a road finale in Cleveland, where the Browns could be playing for a playoff spot. A lot of promise in that slate.

The Bengals and Falcons, both 3-7, are still threats to jump into that first pool of teams, though the Bengals have the easiest remaining schedule of all and might have to deliberately lose in order to stay in the race.

We say goodbye to a handful of teams at the bottom of our list – the Cards, the Texans, the Broncos and the Eagles – who went to .500 with wins this week. Unless they all lose six straight, its unlikely they’ll be in contention for the top few picks in the draft. We’ll be leaner without their dead weight.

As Warner Wolf says, let’s go to the videotape!

I marvel that I can put a spreadsheet right on the Internet. As Warner says, come on!


Jets at Cowboys – In Dallas, four days after a major upset at home? I don’t expect the Jets will do anything other than keep the pace on the big spreadsheet for another week. I’ll pull for another shocker, but I fear it will be in vain.

Niners at Cards – I’m encouraged by the Cardinals’ two game romp over the Lions and Bengals, which got them back to 5-5. Now, just one game off the pace in their division, Arizona has a home game against a team that has lost eight straight. As Warner (not Kurt, but Wolf) says, come on!

Dolphins at Steelers – No. I won’t say it. I won’t. It would be too, too much to ask for.

Raiders at Chiefs – Despite this matchup, the Raiders have a horrifyingly tough schedule the rest of the way (.627). They will be a factor.

Thanks for shopping with us and thanks again to Mike for the support. Be sure to check back next week.


  1. This is enjoyable. But none of us should really want the Patriots to draft first. Mike Reiss is right: that’s a terrible, terrible thing for a franchise unless you luck into Peyton Manning. Otherwise, number one picks are simply never worth the money you have to pay them. Whether we end up with the #1 or even #5 pick, I hope we trade way back down and pick up a new late first rounder to make up for the one the league stole.

  2. Jj, I’ve heard that a lot and I completely get the thinking behind it. But as I’ve mentioned to friends this week, the one time in the Belichick/Pioli era the Patriots have had a pick at this point in the draft, they used the pick and got a pretty rare player in Richard Seymour. And they’ve found a way to pay him through three Super Bowls and five pro bowls. I don’t think you can automatically assume that because its a high pick they can’t/won’t pay. As I said, they’ve found a way to do it with Seymour. I think it all depends on where the pick is and who the players are.

  3. Scott,
    From what I’ve heard, the reason the Pats traded away picks from last year is because they rate this years’ crop of talent much higher. I’m more inclined to not get the top pick but to trade it away for a bunch of later first day picks. Still it’s a great position the Patriots are in even without the Goodell pick.

    It’s better to fill some needs in the draft (ILB, CB, back-up QB) rather than a single need who, because of their draft position, may feel more ego than the Mankins/ Merriweather’s they’ve drafted recently.

  4. Draft a guy with it, trade the pick, draft a guy then trade him… It does not matter. In Bill (and Scott) we trust!!! They will find the value no matter where the pick(s) end up which could include the ’09 draft!! Personally I’d like to see them parlay it into a sweet mid to late round pick with another first rounder next year. I love it when they ‘pay it forward’ so to speak. LET’S GO PATS!!!

  5. William Berry says:

    Usually the “football smart” college line backers, or defensive Ends that can be converted into ILBs, are gone by the time the Patriots pick.

    I think it has been written how the Patriots have a high standard for Line Backer.

    I say either trade down or use that high pick to get the type of player usually gone by the time the Patriots pick.

  6. Peter Williment (from the UK) says:

    Hi all, greetings from the UK.

    Really dont think the Pats should ‘pay it forward’ this year. It leaves it wide open to losing another draft pick like we did this year and ending up getting nothing. This year should be the year to reload the defence.

    The problem is who to trade with? I would suggest that trying to pick up a stud ILB or CB in picks 6-11 would be the Pats aim this year.

    However that team would already need to be fairly strong as they will have to give the Pats compensation for trading down.

    Therefore my prediction: Carolina

    They need a QB (badly) to groom as Delhommes successor and it wouldn’t hurt them too badly to give up a 2RD/3RD pick to make up the difference.

    What do you think?

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