The San Francisco 49ers are kicking off against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15, with the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft still in the mix. A win over the Seahawks is always fun, but there is a benefit if it does not work out.
The 49ers are not getting help from their compatriots at the bottom of the NFL standings, but they have gotten all the help they could want in the strength of schedule area. The Arizona Cardinals were thumped by the Atlanta Falcons, and the Oakland Raiders are down 30-16 to the Cincinnati Bengals late in the fourth quarter. Both teams will drop to 3-11, leaving them a half game ahead of the 49ers in draft order.
While Arizona and Oakland are not helping the 49ers, four other teams did. The 49ers and Cardinals entered the week tied in strength of schedule, and they had four teams that were unique opponents impacting SOS. The 49ers played the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year, while the Cardinals played Washington and just wrapped up with the Atlanta Falcons.
This week, the Giants lost to the Tennessee Titans and the Bucs lost to the Baltimore Ravens, while Washington came back to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Falcons rolled Arizona. Although we would have preferred Arizona winning, the loss at least hurt their strength of schedule.
The 49ers now hold a two-game lead in the strength of schedule tiebreaker thanks to Washington and Atlanta winning. The team with the weaker strength of schedule gets the better pick. The Raiders have a strong SOS than both the 49ers and Raiders.
If the 49ers lose to Seattle, they will have the top pick, followed by Arizona and Oakland. If the 49ers beat Seattle, Arizona and Oakland would have the top two picks, the New York Jets would have the third pick, and the 49ers would have the fourth pick due to having a stronger SOS than the Jets.