CARDINALS CORNER

No game, no problem: Cardinals’ 2024 1st-round pick holds firm after bye

Dec 13, 2023, 5:00 PM

TEMPE — The bye week couldn’t have gone much better for the Arizona Cardinals for a number of reasons.

The Cardinals got some much-needed time away to rest and recharge while also watching the stock of their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft harden that much more inside the top three.

Of the nine teams hanging right around Arizona in the draft order, only the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers walked away with losses last week.

Current Arizona Cardinals 2024 NFL Draft pick outlook

1. Carolina Panthers *owned by Chicago* (1-12)
2. New England Patriots (3-10)
3. Arizona Cardinals (3-10)
4. Washington Commanders (4-9)
5. Chicago Bears (5-8)
6. Las Vegas Raiders (5-8)
7. New York Jets (5-8)
8. New York Giants (5-8)
9. Tennessee Titans (5-8)
10. Los Angeles Chargers (5-8)

Congratulations to the Panthers! You are by far the worst team in the NFL.

Carolina doesn’t even get the reprieve of looking to the draft, either, as Chicago owns its first-round pick in 2024.

It feels like a shoo-in that the Bears will hold with the top pick when April rolls around.

Beyond Bryce Young and Co., things get a little tighter.

With New England’s surprising win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the Patriots are now all knotted up with the Cardinals record-wise at 3-10.

Thanks to a weaker strength of schedule (.525) — the metric used as the first tiebreaker for draft placement — Bill Belichick’s squad holds the higher pick over the Cardinals (.557).

And just based on the Patriots’ remaining schedule of the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, there’s a good chance New England sees little to no movement in the win column.

Arizona on the other hand doesn’t quite have a murderer’s row of opponents to end the year, with two tough matchups against the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles mixed in with winnable games against the Bears and a nosediving Seattle Seahawks team.

Games to watch in Week 15

Aside from the Cardinals’ tilt against the 49ers, there’s a handful of games to keep an eye on this weekend.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers

It’s shaping up to be a battle of the backups in Sin City this week. This one could go either way.

If you are looking for someone to root for in this AFC West showdown, go with the Raiders, who sport a weaker strength of schedule (.498) compared to the Chargers (.525).

Chicago Bears @ Cleveland Browns

Don’t look now, but the Bears have won three of their past four games.

And with every win, Chicago drops another rung in the draft order. A weak strength of schedule (.466) has the Bears within the top five, but another win on top of some outside forces in other matchups could change things drastically.

The Bears will have their work cut out for them in Week 14 against a tough Cleveland squad looking to improve its playoff seeding.

Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

A Titans win not only adds some separation between Tennessee and Arizona, it also helps the Cardinals’ second first-round pick, which the Texans shipped off on draft day to move back into the top three and nab Will Anderson Jr.

And if quarterback C.J. Stroud can’t get out of concussion protocol, a Titans W is realistic this week.

New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins

Miami is coming off a tough loss and will be looking to really put a hurt on a New York team led by a rejuvenated Zach Wilson.

Much like the Bears, there could be a pretty big domino effect if the Jets can figure out a way to win.

New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Once viewed as a blowout waiting to happen, this seems like anything but despite how bad the Patriots have looked this season.

A big reason for that is how inconsistent Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have been 13 games into the year.

Kansas City is shaky, but still a far better team than New England.

Get-right game incoming?

New York Giants @ New Orleans Saints

If Tommy “cutlets” DeVito can lead the Giants to another win, New York might turn into a giant cannoli with a first language of Italian.

A victory would also mean a drop outside of the top 10.

The Saints haven’t been much better than the Giants this season, so a New York W is very realistic this week.

Washington Commanders @ Los Angeles Rams

The Commanders were the only other team on a bye last week and remain right behind the Cardinals at No. 4 overall.

The Rams have been middle of the road this year but strung together three straight wins before losing in overtime to the AFC-leading Baltimore Ravens.

Los Angeles needs a lot of help this offseason but should have enough firepower to keep Sam Howell and Co. at bay.

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