Bears' Rooting Guide for 2022 NFL Draft Implications of Week 14
The Chicago Bears get to enjoy a much-needed bye in Week 14. The late-season week off is a good time for the team to reset in the middle of a six-game losing streak and try to find ways to maximize the final four weeks of the NFL campaign.
It will also give Bears fans a weekend to root for a team to improve their draft stock without watching their side potentially lose another game.
Although Chicago's 3-10 record is nothing to get excited about, it does put the team on course for a premium draft pick in April.
With Justin Fields showing signs that he can be the franchise quarterback moving forward, it allows the Bears to bring in another blue-chip talent to build around.
Here's a look at how the draft board currently falls and a few games the Chicago fans should be tracking for draft purposes.
Current Draft Order
1. Houston Texans
2. Chicago Bears
3. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)
4. Detroit Lions (from LA Rams)
5. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)
6. Carolina Panthers
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Arizona Cardinals
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Atlanta Falcons
11. Green Bay Packers
12. Las Vegas Raiders
13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland)
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
15. Detroit Lions
16. Los Angeles Chargers
17. New England Patriots
18. Washington Commanders
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
20. Seattle Seahawks
21. Tenessee Titans
22. New York Jets
23. New York Giants
24. Denver Broncos (from SF via MIA)
25. Baltimore Ravens
26. Cincinnati Bengals
27. Dallas Cowboys
28. Kansas City Chiefs
29. Minnesota Vikings
30. Buffalo Bills
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Draft order via Tankathon.
Where the Bears Stand
No one likes losing, but the Bears' defeats this season have them sitting in a good spot for the 2023 draft.
Right now, they are locked into a top-three selection, with the Houston Texans in the lead for the top pick. The Denver Broncos are not far behind, although that pick belongs to the Seattle Seahawks.
Ahead of Thursday night's game, ESPN provided their latest projections for the 2023 draft order. Based on simulations using their FPI rankings, the Bears have an 85.7 percent chance of locking up a top-five selection.
Their odds of getting the first pick are just 3.5 percent.
That's not the worst thing in the world. The Bears don't need a quarterback, so the biggest advantage of holding the No. 1 pick would be the potential to trade down with a team looking to secure Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud and receive a boatload of draft capital in return.
So, Chicago is likely to be the first team picking in the top three that isn't in the market for a quarterback.
That would allow them to grab a game-changing defensive prospect such as Will Anderson Jr. to build around, so getting in front of other teams that don't need a signal-caller in the draft is crucial down the stretch.
Games to Watch
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m. ET
In an ideal world, the Texans would at least accidentally win another game and make things interesting for the No. 1 pick down the stretch. As it stands, their 1-10-1 record feels just about insurmountable for a three-win Chicago team.
The Texans seem pretty opposed to the idea of winning football games. Last week was a perfect example. They held Deshaun Watson to just 12-of-22 passing for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
Yet, they gave up touchdowns on a punt return, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Now, they'll travel to Dallas, a team with Super Bowl aspirations that just put up 54 points against the Indianapolis Colts.
This probably isn't the week when the Texans show signs of life.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m. ET
Much like the Saints, the Broncos don't own their draft pick. They dealt it to the Seahawks as part of the trade that sent Russell Wilson to the Mile High City.
However, they join the Bears as one of two teams going into Week 14 with just three wins this season, after the Rams' victory against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night lifted them to 4-9.
It would benefit Chicago if the Broncos are able to pull off an upset within their division, but it's not something they can count on.
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals but have won 13 straight games against the Broncos. The Denver defense is fourth in yards allowed per play, but it hasn't been able to slow down Patrick Mahomes in recent years.
Still, they just lost a one-point game to the Baltimore Ravens, so they've been competitive and have no reason to tank since they don't even have their own pick.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET
ESPN's projected draft order has the Bears ultimately earning the No. 3 pick in the draft, but the Carolina Panthers aren't far behind at No. 5.
Not much has gone right for the Panthers this season. They've started Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker and Sam Darnold at quarterback, and they already fired head coach Matt Rhule and are 4-8.
Despite all that, they are technically just two games behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South. A 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 12 followed by a bye week to further acclimate Darnold and game-plan for Seattle makes things interesting.
The Panthers are in a position to make the final stretch of their season worth something. Don't discount them pulling off an upset and eliminating themselves as competition for a top-three draft pick with the Bears.