Fooch’s update 12/17: The 49ers are now tied with the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. Since they are in the AFC and the 49ers are in the NFC, the tiebreaker for record against common divisional and conference opponents does not apply. If they finished tied in strength of schedule, the Jets and Jaguars would go through the divisional and conference tiebreakers, and then it would go to a coin flip with the 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers have a great shot at the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They entered Week 14 sitting atop the draft order with a 2-10 record. They beat the Denver Broncos to improve to 3-10, but the teams around them got big wins as well. The Oakland Raiders beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-21 to improve to 3-10, and the New York Jets beat the Buffalo Bills 27-23 to improve to 4-9.
The Arizona Cardinals lost 17-3 to the Detroit Lions to drop to 3-10, which means we have a three-way tie between San Francisco, Arizona, and Oakland. And naturally, that brings up plenty of questions as to who has the No. 1 overall pick.
The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule. The team with the weakest SOS among tied teams gets the higher first round pick. The 49ers and Cardinals are currently tied in SOS. They have mostly common opponents between their division and NFC North matchups. That leaves their games against the NFC East and NFC South to clear up SOS. The 49ers faced the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cardinals faced Washington and face the Atlanta Falcons this weekend. The results of those four teams will determine any differences in SOS. If it remains tied after all that, it moves to the next tiebreaker.
The second tiebreaker after SOS is common opponents in the division or conference. The 49ers and Cardinals both play the Seahawks and Rams. Both have lost once to each team, and face them each once more. If they lose those remaining two games, it would then move to common conference opponents. The NFC West faced the NFC North, and those are the four common conference opponents. The 49ers beat Detroit, lost to Green Bay and Minnesota, and face Chicago in Week 16. The Cardinals beat Green Bay, but lost to the other three teams.
If the 49ers and Cardinals each lose their final three games and their SOS is tied, the divisional/conference tiebreaker would also be tied. The third and final tiebreaker is a coin flip at the NFL Combine.
I made a mistake earlier in saying it went from SOS to coin flip because that’s what happened last year between the 49ers and Raiders. They are in different conferences, so the divisional and conference tiebreakers did not apply.
So there you have it. Week 14 is officially a wrap, and the 49ers and Cardinals are tied in strength of schedule. Their slate of opponents each have a record of 109-97-2 as of Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the Raiders opponents are 117-89-2.
There are three weeks remaining on the NFL schedule, so there is a lot of time left for the 49ers and Cardinals to find some separation.