Once upon a time in 2019, the New York Giants were 2-2. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones led the team to a come-from-behind win against the Buccaneers in his first career start in Week 3, and then a 24-3 blowout of Washington in Week 4.
That was a long time ago. A 31-13 loss to the Packers in Week 13 was the Giants’ eighth consecutive loss. It also officially eliminated New York from postseason contention.
Head coach Pat Shurmur searched for positives after the game — like Jones throwing interceptions instead of fumbling, I guess? — but glossed over the best news of all. Washington, the Bengals, and the Dolphins all won in Week 13. That was close to a best-case scenario for the Giants, who now have a great shot at picking first in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Bengals still have the No. 1 pick, for now
A 22-6 win over the Jets was the Bengals’, and rookie coach Zac Taylor’s, first victory of 2019. That improved their record to 1-11 on the year, and there’s a chance Cincinnati gets another win before the season ends too.
Cincinnati ends the year with two games against the Browns as well as matchups against the Patriots and Dolphins. It’d be shocking if the Bengals even stayed competitive with New England, but picking up a win in any of the other three games is possible.
And if the Bengals win again, the Giants are well positioned to jump the line:
Current top 5 in the 2020 NFL Draft
The full draft order can be found here, but the important takeaway regarding the Giants is this: The NFC East being awful is a blessing. Playing in the NFL’s worst division means the Giants have a strength of schedule so low that New York will probably win any tiebreaker in the draft order.
If the Giants lose their last four — against the Eagles, Dolphins, Washington, and Eagles again — they’ll own the first or second pick in April. If they lose three, their strength of schedule will almost definitely guarantee the Giants a top two pick anyway.
Even if New York picks behind the Bengals in 2020, that’s a great situation for the team.
The Bengals likely want a quarterback; the Giants don’t
Jones has taken his fair share of lumps during an up-and-down rookie season. But New York has no reason to consider giving up on its top-10 draft pick after only one year like the Cardinals did with Josh Rosen.
When the draft comes in the spring, the Giants will probably be more concerned with either improving a defense that’s one of the NFL’s worst, or protecting Jones. Their top targets could include Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young or Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are in the market for a new quarterback. While Andy Dalton has been an above-average game manager for much of his career in Cincinnati, the team will have a chance to upgrade the position. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow seems like the clear-cut candidate to be the future of the Bengals.
Whether the Giants pick ahead of or behind the Bengals, both teams will probably get the player they want.