As we head down the main stretch of the 2023 NFL season, a different kind of competition is heating up - the race for the coveted no.1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Three teams sit at 2-7 through Week 9, the New England Patriots, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears. While the Carolina Panthers are 1-7 and sit right in the thick of the race. Unfortunately for the Panthers, their pick heads to Chicago as part of the Bryce Young trade. While the Arizona Cardinals currently sit dead last in the NFL standings at 1-8.
This race is less about immediate results, and more about long-term franchise planning. Let's delve into current season trajectories, and decide who is most likely to win the race to the no.1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
NFL Worst-Regular Season Record Odds
|New York Giants||+280|
|New England Patriots||+1000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+2600|
Oddsmakers currently love the Arizona Cardinals to come away with the no.1 pick in the 2024 draft at +200 odds, with the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants hot on their heels at +280.
Despite their struggles, Jonathan Gannon's team was competitive during the early portion of the season. Arizona lost their first two games by a combined 7 points. However, since a Week 3 upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the Cardinals have lost 6 straight games and been outscored 173 to 79.
Everything is seemingly going swimmingly as the rebuilding Cardinals continue to lose football games and move closer to the #1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. There's just one small problem.
Kyler Murray is set to return to the field against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10. The former 1st-overall selection will be more motivated than ever to prove he's the teams' quarterback of the future. Even though the new Call of Duty just came out, Murray will be driven to win football games and take his Cardinals out of the Caleb Williams/Drake May sweepstakes.
#Cardinals QB Kyler Murray on the state of the team: "We're really not that far off. Obviously, people may think we're a bad football team. We're not a bad football team."— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 9, 2023
Murray is set to play Sunday for the first time since tearing his ACL. Arizona was 1-13 without him, with… pic.twitter.com/sijSSIaxm8
Arizona has the 7th-most difficult remaining strength of schedule per Tankathon. Although, winnable contests against the Bears, Los Angeles Rams, and aforementioned Falcons could take them out of contention.
Besides, Murray's gargantuan 2022 contract extension could cause the team to think twice about moving on. Arizona would incure a dead-cap hit of $81.5 million should they cut Murray after the 2023 season per Spotrac.
Arizona is currently the favorite among sportsbooks to have the NFL's worst record at +200 odds.
Da Bears are in this race with both their own pick and by virtue of general manager Ryan Poles trading last year's first-overall pick to Carolina.
Chicago will continue to lose football games with undrafted Division II rookie Tyson Bagent guiding their offense. While Justin Fields is looking to make his return as soon as possible, there's little reason to believe Chicago can win more games with the third-year signal caller back in the fold.
Despite that, Fields will be chomping at the bit to get back on the gridiron. With their season yet again spiraling out of control, the former Ohio State passer understands this could be his last shot at keeping his job. He'll be obsessed with the idea of winning football games down the stretch to get his team as far away for the no.1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as he can.
Tonight could be, as @LauraRutledge would say, a win-win for the Bears. Since the Bears own the Panthers’ first-round pick courtesy of the trade for the 2023 No. 1 overall pick, Chicago would help its chances of getting the 2024 No. 1 overall pick with a win tonight vs. Carolina.… pic.twitter.com/AqSQuOfY2S— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 9, 2023
Tragically, even that may not be enough. As the Carolina Panthers pick could keep Chicago smack dab in the mix to draft Fields' replacement. At the very least, Carolina's selection gives Bears general manager Ryan Poles more than enough ammo to move up and select his player of choice.
Remember, Fields was drafted by former Bears general manager Ryan Pace - not Poles. The current Bears GM has little incentive to continue losing football games with Fields at the helm. While winnable contests against the Cardinals, Falcons and Green Bay Packers remain on the Bears 24th-rated strength of schedule, they could end up with two top-five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Carolina managed to eke out a victory over the Houston Texans in Week 8 for the first victory of Bryce Young's career.
Nonetheless, general manager Scott Fitterer and owner David Tepper are facing their fair share of criticism, as fans and analysts have watched Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud light up the league.
The steep price that Carolina paid for Young will also take them out of the running to draft a generational talent in the 2024 NFL Draft. In short, Carolina has no reason to tank, and head coach Frank Reich will push his squad to win football games down the stretch to silent the teams' doubters.
The Panthers rank 27th in the league in scoring, while Young has failed to impress. He hasn't been given much help, with a shaky offensive line in front of him, and the worst collection of skill players in the NFL.
That being said, Carolina still has winnable games against the Falcons, Bucs, Packers and Tennessee Titans on the schedule. Look for the Panthers to do everything in their power to ensure they don't have to gift Chicago the no.1 pick.
New York Giants
The New York football Giants are a mess. After a playoff appearance last season, Brian Daboll's squad have fallen apart in 2023. In fact, the Giants rank dead last in offensive DVOA. Unbelievably, New York has averaged just 4.7 points per game in the first-half, and have looked like a team in disarray.
Daniel Jones has regressed in his second season in Daboll's offense. He's been under constant duress, as injuries along the offensive line have left the quarterback exposed. To make matters worse, the Giants are reeling after Jones tore his in ACL in the first-half of the teams' most recent loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Usual backup Tyrod Taylor is also on injured reserve, so the G-Men will trot out undrafted rookie Tommy Devito moving forward.
Adam Schefter on the New York Giants:— Sideline Daily (@sideline_daily) November 6, 2023
“The people in the building would never admit this, but the best thing they can do is lose games right now.”
Looking ahead szn for Marvin Harrison Jr, Drake Maye, or Caleb Williams 🤨 pic.twitter.com/Y0Zm7s1ehh
Moreover, the Giants have one of the NFL's toughest remaining schedules. Two matchups with the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles, and games against the Cowboys and Saints remain. This team is bereft of talent on both sides of the football, and will struggle to score points with Jones on the sidelines. The Giants are a prime team to fade down the stretch and target with unders in your totals wagers.
New York drafting another quarterback is almost an inevitability at this point. Even if Jones returns in 2024 he'll likely miss at least the early part of the season as he recovers from his injury. According to Spotrac, New York can get out from underneath Daniel Jones contract after 2024 with just a 22-million dollar dead-cap hit.
New York is a prime candidate to win the race to the 2024 NFL Draft's 1st-overall pick.
New England Patriots
Is this all a part of Darth Hoody's plan? Remember, Bill Belichick still needs 17 wins to pass the legendary Don Shula for the most victories by a head coach of all-time. At this season's rate he'll need to coach for another half decade to pass Shula. However, if he were to secure a top passing prospect, say USC's Caleb Williams, and return the Patriots to the upper echelons of the NFL, the 8-time Super Bowl champion would solidify his standing as the greatest coach in NFL history.
Many believed that after Belichick hired an actual offensive coordinator this season (the returning Bill O'Brien), New England's offense would take a step in the right direction. Instead, Mac Jones and the Patriots have regressed. Jones ranks 2nd in interceptable passes with 19, 28th in adjusted-yards-per-attempt at 5.2, and 28th in EPA per dropback (-0.16).
According to reports, Jones hasn't taken well to the tough coaching from those in the building in New England. The former Alabama star has drawn the ire of both players and coaches with his inability to improve his decision-making, and that has reflected on the field. The Pats rank 31st in the NFL, scoring only 15 points per game and are 27th in total yards. Crucially, the offensive line has done Jones few favors, ranking dead-last in ESPN's pass-block win rate.
New England has difficult contests against the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Chargers on deck. The Pats are unlikely to be favored in any of those games. After 20-plus years of dominance, the Patriots reign of glory is officially at an end. New England is on its way to rock bottom. At +1000 odds the Pats are the best bet on the board to finish with the NFL's worst regular season record and secure the no.1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.