Jaguars, Jets and their paths to the No. 1 overall pick in 2021 NFL draft

ByRich Cimini and Michael DiRocco ESPN logo
Monday, December 21, 2020

The future of two NFL franchises might have changed in the span of six hours on Sunday afternoon in Week 15. With a stunning upset of the Los Angeles Rams, the New York Jets relinquished the front-runner position in the 2021 NFL draft, falling behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Both teams are 1-13, but the Jaguars clinched the tiebreaker, according to ESPN research. The tiebreaker is based on strength of schedule, and the Jaguars have played a significantly weaker schedule than the Jets. The player both teams are eyeing is Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive top pick.

ESPN reporters Michael DiRocco (Jaguars) and Rich Cimini (Jets) break down each team's path to the No. 1 draft pick:

Next on the schedule for both teams

Jaguars' next two games: They play host to Chicago (7-7) and are at Indianapolis (10-4) and both games are important, so neither team is likely to rest any key starters. The Bears, with a resurgent quarterback inMitchell Trubisky, are still in the NFC playoff race and the Colts are fighting with the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South division title. Plus, the Colts are the only team the Jaguars beat (in the season opener), so Week 17 sets up as a revenge game for quarterbackPhilip Rivers, who is 7-3 in his career against the Jaguars.

Jets' next two games: They finish with the Cleveland Browns (10-4) at home and the New England Patriots (6-8) on the road. The Browns still haven't clinched a playoff spot, so they need a win. Cleveland's strong running game could wear down the Jets, who might not have standout defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (concussion). The Jets-Patriots contest in Week 17 is meaningless, but you wonder if coach Bill Belichick will try to keep the Jets even farther away from Lawrence if the No. 1 draft position still is in doubt. Wink, wink.

What coaches said after Sunday's games

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone: "You know, this team has been going through a lot. They've been trying hard and we understand that and I know they're professionals. But if we gather up all of us together, coaches and players, the greatest gift that we can all give to each other is the gift of winning a football game."

Jets coach Adam Gase: "I'm just happy for our guys. They've done such a great job of how they've worked. They've been through a lot of adversity. It's been too long for us to even remember what a win feels like almost. It's great to see those guys that excited."

ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) projections

Jaguars (1-13)

Average draft position: 1.3

FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 74.2%

FPI chance to earn top-five pick: Clinched

Jets (1-13)

Average draft position: 1.8

FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 25.6%

FPI chance to earn top-five pick: Clinched

Predictions on how the season will end for each team

DiRocco's prediction on Jaguars' finish: After losing to Cleveland and Minnesota by a combined five points, the Jaguars have been outscored 71-24 in losses to Tennessee and Baltimore (Weeks 14 and 15). The Ravens loss was particularly demoralizing, and you have to start wondering if the players, who have fought hard all season, are starting to wear down emotionally and mentally. Unless the Jaguars' quarterback play is markedly better, an 0-2 finish and a 1-15 record is likely.

Cimini's prediction on Jets' finish:Because the Jets are the Jets, they will find more ways to torture their fan base. So don't be surprised if they blow another shot at securing the No. 1 pick, meaning: The Jaguars will win one game to finish 2-14, but the Jets close with a win against the Patriots, missing out on yet another chance to steal Lawrence because Jacksonville will still own the tiebreaker. Oh, the pain.

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