The San Francisco 49ers are still in the running for the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, though there are many who would rather see Jimmy Garoppolo light up opposing defenses for the next four weeks.
Those people are well within their rights to wish for that — it’s where I’m personally at — but if we’re talking draft picks, losing is the best course of action. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch would rather win though, so instead we’ll look at the other bad teams in the league and who they’ll be playing this week. If all those bad teams win games in addition to the 49ers, a high pick is still plenty attainable.
San Francisco will play the Houston Texans on Sunday, while the winless Cleveland Browns will take on the Green Bay Packers. The New York Giants, who own the second overall pick presently, will be taking on the Dallas Cowboys and are likely to lose that one.
The 49ers have a second-round pick from the New Orleans Saints, who fell to the Atlanta Falcons this week on Thursday Night Football. Any loss for the Saints is good for the 49ers, unless it interferes with the fight for the top pick, which Thursday’s game did not.
Below are the games you should care about on Sunday.
Packers (6-6) at Browns (0-12): Cleveland — The winless Browns are, in all likelihood, going to remain winless. The Packers have shown some life with Brett Hundley, and should win this one. That being said, the return of Josh Gordon, and a recent emergence of David Njoku could open the door for an upset.
Bears (3-9) at Bengals (5-7): Chicago — The 49ers are a game ahead of the Bears in draft order, but if the 49ers beat Houston today, or win a future game, a little extra breathing room would be nice.
Cowboys (6-6) at Giants (2-10): New York — The Giants and 49ers have the same record, but New York’s strength of schedule is significantly weaker, which is why they’re in possession of the second overall pick. A win would put the 49ers in second, providing ...
49ers (2-10) at Texans (4-8): Houston — ....that the 49ers don’t win on Sunday. It’s a very winnable game, but strictly speaking, the 49ers need to lose it for draft positioning. Or is Garoppolo’s confidence more important?
Jets (5-7) at Broncos (3-9): Denver — The Broncos are legitimately bad enough to lose out, so if the 49ers find themselves winning a game or two, they will likely be firmly behind the Broncos in the draft order. They should go ahead and beat the Jets ... but they probably won’t.
Colts (3-9) at Bills (6-6): Indianapolis — The Colts are in such a weird place. I don’t know where that franchise goes from here. In the immediate future, they’re probably not going to beat the Bills, who are better just about everywhere. Indianapolis has lost its last three games.
Lions (6-6) at Buccaneers (4-8): Tampa Bay — The Buccaneers are the lone remaining four-win team that we haven’t discussed yet. They have some strong points, but they have lost their last two games, an the Lions are the better team.