Texans' Rooting Guide for 2023 NFL Draft Implications of Week 17

Joe TanseyDecember 30, 2022

Texans' Rooting Guide for 2023 NFL Draft Implications of Week 17

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    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 24:  Davis Mills #10 hands off the ball to Royce Freeman #26 of the Houston Texans during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Texans defeated the Titans 19-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Houston Texans are rooting on two fronts in Week 17 when it comes to their 2023 NFL draft positioning.

    The Texans are still tracking to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. They sit at 2-12-1 and the Chicago Bears are at 3-12.

    Houston has been competitive over the last few weeks, but it has still picked up losses to remain on top of the draft order. The same situation could be in play on Sunday when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The Texans also have their eyes on the performance of the Cleveland Browns. Houston owns Cleveland's first-round pick from the Deshaun Watson trade. That selection is currently 11th in the projected draft order.

    Houston needs the Browns to lose to the Washington Commanders on Sunday and to receive some help from other 6-9 teams to move into the top 10 with that selection.

    Finding the right 6-9 teams to root for is tough because the Las Vegas Raiders are starting Jarrett Stidham, the New Orleans Saints are on the road in Philadelphia and the Carolina Panthers take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bears over Lions

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 24: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Texans' first rooting interest is in Detroit with the Chicago Bears.

    A Bears win combined with a Texans loss to Jacksonville secures the No. 1 overall pick for Houston.

    Houston is only a half-game ahead of the Bears with two weeks left. A swing of results would leave the Texans with no stress about clinching the top pick in Week 18.

    Chicago has followed a similar path as the Texans for most of the second half of the regular season. The Bears have been competitive, but they have lacked the winning touch, and that has kept them high atop the draft order.

    Detroit succumbed to the pressure of the playoff race in Week 16 with a loss to the Carolina Panthers.

    Justin Fields and David Montgomery can run through the Lions defense, like D'Onta Foreman and the Panthers did last Saturday.

    The Lions could bounce back and not allow the Texans to clinch the top pick until next week, but there has to be a glimmer of hope for the Bears with that game being a divisional contest.

Commanders over Browns

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    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Carson Wentz #11 of the Washington Commanders passes the ball in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    The Texans need the Browns to lose.

    Two more losses by Cleveland would likely land the picked owed to the Texans inside the top 10.

    That pick sits at No. 11. Cleveland is behind the other 6-9 teams because of strength of schedule.

    The Browns are no longer in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the AFC, so they could take Sunday's game a bit less seriously than they would if they still had a small chance of landing the No. 7 seed.

    Cleveland has a chance to win over the Commanders because Carson Wentz is back in at quarterback. Wentz did not play well in his first stint as Washington starter.

    The Texans have to hope that Wentz avoids multiple turnovers and produces a decent day in the pocket to beat the Browns.

    A Commanders win is needed by the Texans to land in the top 10 because that opportunity may not be there in Week 18 if the Browns beat the NFC East side.

Panthers over Buccaneers

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 24: D'Onta Foreman #33 of the Carolina Panthers reacts during their game against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
    Eakin Howard/Getty Images

    There are three 6-9 teams in front of Cleveland in the draft order.

    The Raiders can't be trusted to move up with a win now that Jarrett Stidham is starting in place of Derek Carr.

    New Orleans likely is not going to win in Philadelphia. An Eagles win would clinch home-field advantage in the NFC and move Philadelphia up in the draft order since it owns the Saints' first-round pick.

    That leaves the Carolina Panthers as the likeliest winner of the 6-9 lot.

    Carolina needs a win over Tampa Bay to stay alive for the NFC South crown.

    The Panthers are playing decent football of late. A potential shot at playing for a division title in Week 18 is much more important than a top-10 draft pick right now for the Panthers.

    Houston's ideal scenario features a loss of its own to Jacksonville, a Bears win in Detroit, a Cleveland loss to Washington and Carolina beating Tampa Bay.

    That would allow the Texans to have two top-10 picks and the top spot locked up going into Week 18.