Panthers' Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 17December 31, 2021
Panthers' Rooting Guide for 2021 NFL Draft Implications of Week 17
The Carolina Panthers need some help over the next two weeks to secure a top-five selection in the 2022 NFL draft.
Carolina enters its Week 17 clash with the New Orleans Saints in the No. 7 spot in the projected first-round draft order, per Tankathon.
The Panthers reached that point with a five-game losing streak, and there is a good chance the franchise finishes the campaign with seven consecutive defeats.
If that occurs, the Panthers could be in line for the No. 5 or No. 6 selection, but they need some of the other five-win teams in the NFL to come away with victories in Weeks 17 and 18.
Seahawks over Lions
Carolina's main wish for Week 17 should be for the other five-win teams to win so that they move down the draft order.
The Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears come into Week 17 with the same 5-10 mark as the Panthers. Both teams could come away with victories against lesser opponents.
Seattle welcomes the Detroit Lions to Lumen Field in a game that could shake up the top of the draft order if the Lions spring the upset. Seattle could well lose the matchup with Detroit since it fell to the Bears at home in its previous outing, but that loss should serve as the motivating factor to win Sunday.
The Seahawks are playing for pride, and the last thing they need is to lose at home to the two worst teams in the NFC North in consecutive weeks.
A Seattle victory combined with a Panthers loss to the New Orleans Saints would move Carolina up at least one spot in the first-round order. Seattle's pick that goes to the New York Jets would fall from No. 6 to No. 7 at minimum.
Bears over Giants
The Panthers should hope the momentum earned by the Bears from their win in Seattle carries over to Week 17.
Chicago faces the New York Giants, who own the Bears' 2022 first-round selection from the 2021 NFL draft trade that brought Justin Fields to Chicago.
Matt Nagy's team has looked more competent in recent weeks than the franchise that owns its first-round selection in April.
Fields kept the Bears competitive for a half against the Green Bay Packers, and Nick Foles was decent enough in the pocket to lead them to a win in the snow at Seattle last time out.
The Giants have been trending in the wrong direction since Daniel Jones got hurt at the end of November. They are limping to the finish line more than any other NFL team.
Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm have not been able to do much right in the pocket, and the Giants have a single victory since returning from their Week 10 bye.
The Bears have at least displayed an offensive pulse in recent weeks and should come away with a win that puts them beneath the Panthers in the draft order Sunday night.
Texans over 49ers
If the Houston Texans can beat the Los Angeles Chargers, then they are capable of beating the San Francisco 49ers too, right?
Houston joined the two New York franchises at the four-win mark with its surprising home win over the Chargers in Week 16.
One more victory would bring the Texans level with the Panthers, and that could open up more possibilities to earn a top-five pick in Week 18.
Houston has played freer football since Davis Mills took over as the permanent starting quarterback, and he could keep the Texans in the game against a 49ers team dealing with a key injury.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is far from 100 percent because of a right-hand injury. The 49ers could keep him under center Sunday or opt for rookie Trey Lance.
San Francisco is more vulnerable than it was in previous weeks regardless of which quarterback starts, and that might be a recipe for an upset.
A Houston win at Levi's Stadium seems unlikely, but it would be ideal for the Panthers in their attempt to get as high of a draft pick as possible.