The majority of Cowboys Nation believes there is nothing on the line for the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, any aspirations of seeing the Cowboys making the playoffs have been squashed after the devastating loss on Christmas Eve to the Seattle Seahawks, but there is something at stake still… 2018 NFL Draft positioning.
It may seem like a minuscule thing right now because many of us are still extremely disappointed how the Cowboys played on Christmas Eve, but draft positioning is still important for the future of this organization. So important in fact that I believe Dallas would be better off finishing the season with an 8-8 record instead of 9-7 and I will tell you why.
The Dallas Cowboys are currently slotted to select 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft based on their current record and strength of schedule. Of course, this could all change based on how things turn out in the final week of the 2017-2018 season.
There are currently eight NFL teams who could finish the season with an 8-8 record, including the Cowboys. But, the Tennessee Titans are currently the only team who could possibly finish 8-8 and still make the playoffs as a wild-card candidate. Let’s take a look at how things stand right now.
13. Arizona Cardinals (7-8)
14. Washington Redskins (7-8)
15. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
16. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
17. Buffalo Bills (8-7)
18. Detroit Lions (8-7)
19. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
21. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
So, you can see for yourself how finishing 8-8 could shake up the 2018 NFL Draft order. But, let’s try to break this down a little bit further to see just how much the Cowboys can improve their draft positioning.
Let’s pretend all of these teams finish 8-8, because that simplifies things quite a bit. Also, let’s take the Titans out of the equation completely and pretend they make the playoffs. That leaves seven teams to shuffle around and figure out exactly where they will be slotted to select in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys strength of schedule doesn’t really help them a lot. Out of the seven teams, only the Redskins (.538) and Packers (.538) have a more difficult strength of schedule than the Cowboys (.500). That means the Cowboys would only move up two spots to the 17th overall pick.
Selecting 17th isn’t that much of an improvement, but you never know how things will shake out once the draft gets underway. Moving up two spots could land them the player they wanted all along, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Fortunately, I think the Cowboys can move up even further. For fun, I’m going to predict how the 2018 NFL Draft order will look after Week 17 based on which of these teams win and lose to close out the season.
13. Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
14. Green Bay Packers (7-9)
15. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
16. Washington Redskins (8-8)
17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
18. Buffalo Bills (9-7)
19. Detroit Lions (9-7)
Now, this is where I think the Dallas Cowboys benefit from losing their season finale this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Picking in the top 15 of the 2018 NFL Draft should land them a blue-chip player and someone who should not only start right away, but hopefully be a cornerstone of the organization for years to come. These types of players are hard to come by.
So you can see, the Dallas Cowboys really have nothing to gain from winning the game against the Philadelphia Eagles and finishing the season with a 9-7 record. They will still be picking 19th overall, but in losing I believe they will move up all the way to the 15th overall spot.