September 19, 2017

Niner Watch, Week Fourteen

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

San Francisco’s loss to Carolina on Sunday means that if the 2008 NFL Draft was held today, the New England Patriots would hold the second pick.

Everything went the Pats way this week as the Jets beat the Dolphins and the Rams beat the Falcons, a sequence of events that left the Niners, Atlanta, St. Louis and New York all tied in the Race to the Bottom with three victories apiece.

Once again, San Francisco’s lowly .484 strength of schedule (SOS) gives the Niners the edge, meaning at the moment they trail only the 0-12 Miami Dolphins as worst team in the league. They’re followed by the Falcons (fast risers, or droppers I guess, as losers of three straight), the Rams (in danger with three wins out of the last four) and the Jets, who dropped to number five from number two last week with their trashing of Miami.

Lurking right behind the three-win pack are the Bengals, Chiefs, Raiders and Ravens, all 4-8. The Bengals have the sixth pick by SOS, and the tie between Kansas City and Oakland is broken only by Kansas City’s .333 average against the rest of the AFC. The Ravens lose out as the 4-8 team with the toughest schedule.

Here’s this week’s chart:

They’re not on the chart, but there are another seven teams trailing this pack, all of them with 5-7 records. But clearly the nine teams shown are the current frontrunners for the first picks in the 2008 Draft.

Now, let’s take a quick look ahead to next weekend:


Minnesota at San Francisco – The Niners have been right in their last few games, so it was good to see them take a step back in Carolina, where any visiting team should have a reasonable chance to win. Now they return home to meet surging Minnesota, who all of a sudden could be the best team in the NFC North. But its the Vikings. I can’t help but feel like they’ll screw it up, but that might be just post Mike Tice-syndrome. Good news: San Francisco is 26th against the run.

St. Louis at Cincinnati – The Rams have been playing pretty well after spending half the season without a win, but I think we’d like to see them take the pipe this weekend. Cincinnati, just one loss behind the Niners, have a .479 strength of schedule, the easiest of all the teams on our chart this week.

Cleveland at NY Jets – The Jets are like the Rams – the Niners have the clear advantage in the SOS tiebreaker, and as long as they stay tied, its all good. So a Jets loss here only hurts the Patriots if the Niners somehow manage to beat Minnesota.

New Orleans at Atlanta – The Falcons are making a serious run at the Niners here, though they would still have to overcome that strength of schedule tiebreaker. New Orleans is a game and a tiebreaker (SOS) behind San Francisco, so we’d rather see the Saints falter.


  1. From those 5-7 teams, at least one has to hit 6 when Washington and the Bears play on Thursday.
    The worst (best) San Fran could finish would be 15th.

    With games between NO-PHI and NO-CHI weeks 16 and 17, at least one more has to be eliminated.
    Brings San Fran to 14 at worst.

    Thats going to drop a lot if they lose this weekend, then they can only max out at 5 wins. Only 8 teams can finish with less than 5 wins, so San Fran can guarantee us the #9 pick by losing this weekend. #14 with a win.

    Thats assuming the tiebreakers still work the same way.

  2. This column makes me feel dirty and happy all at the same time each week. Thanks. I think.

  3. Wayne Perkins says:

    No guilt here, I await with untold glee the espn punditry pre draft and draft day… The whining and calls for investigations should be amusing. “Their making a’mockery’ of the draft /nfl”…It will be a very gratifying day…

  4. You’re welcome. I think.

  5. A footnote to this column could be a “Raider Watch”. The Pats have their third round pick which is currently at the #7/#8 slot with their 4-8 record. Keep up the good work Scott.

  6. Has anyone tried going to ?

  7. It’s a web phenomenon. Perhaps I better start actually keeping track of these things instead of making them up.

  8. All this and Snorg Tees too.

  9. It’d be better if St. Louis beat Cincinnati, because they probably won’t get another win the rest of the way (GB, Pitt, at Ari) while Cin has a creampuff schedule (at SF, Clev, at Mia) and should be able to get at least one more win. SF will probably win at least one more so all those 3 win teams need to get to 4. I think the Jets can get one, but I have my doubts that Atlanta can.

  10. That chart is amazing! May I have permission (with link of course) to repost it elsewhere on the internet? I’m on a message boards that I would like to share this with. I’ll probably link them anyway, but I just like to tease people with the cool chart and then have them click over to read the accompanying article.

    Thank you,

  11. I don’t see any problems with that, Phillip.

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