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2021 NFL Draft Order: Cowboys in battle for Top 3 pick

A high pick is probably the best the Cowboys can salvage from this season.

Cowboys CB Byron Jones undergoes hip surgery, possibly out until start of season Bob Booth/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It’s been a bumpy ride for Team Tank and Team Win over the last two weeks. After the Cowboys’ improbable win over the Vikings, Team Win enjoyed a brief revival, but after the beatdown by Washington on Thanksgiving, Team Tank took over the reigns again. There’s been some speculation that a 5-11 record might still be enough for the Cowboys to win the division, but that would require the Cowboys to win two of their last five games, and that’s probably not happening.

In fact, fivethirtyeight.com calculated point spreads and win probabilities for the remaining five Cowboys games, and based on their projections, the Cowboys will be lucky to win even one of their remaining five games.

Remaining Cowboys Games
Week OPP ELO Point Spread Win Probability
13 @ BAL 10 19%
14 CIN -1.5 56%
15 SF 6.5 29%
16 PHI 2 43%
17 @ NYG 4.5 34%

The rest of the NFC East doesn’t look much better, with New York and Washington projected to both go 1-4, while the Eagles could go 2-3.

So with the division safely out of reach, Team Tank is now fully in charge, and one game on the remaining schedule looms large for a potential draft spot: the week 14 game against the Bengals. Not only because it is the only remaining projected win on the schedule, but also because the Bengals are a direct competitor for a Top 3 pick. Per Tankathon, the Bengals are currently in line for the third overall pick, one pick ahead of the Cowboys.

Which pick the Cowboys ultimately end up with depends in part on their own performance, but it also depends in part on how the Jets, Jaguars, and Bengals play down the stretch. Can we realistically expect those teams to win any more games this season? Fivethirtyeight has the answer:

Win probabilities remaining games
Week Jets Jaguars Bengals
13 25% 17% 17%
14 10% 17% 44%
15 12% 13% 9%
16 21% 32% 17%
17 17% 15% 15%

If you were hoping for the Cowboys to move into one of the top two spots, you can forget about that; the Jets aren’t going to win three of their remaining games, and the Jaguars aren’t going to win two of their remaining games either. The two teams are locked into the top two spots. Which leaves the Bengals as the main competitor for the third overall pick, with a showdown coming in the all-important Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys.

See you then, Team Tank!