The Patriots earned a feel-good win Thursday night in Pittsburgh. But the 21-18 win over the Steelers might’ve come at a cost.

At 3-10, New England now trails the Chicago Bears (via 1-11 Carolina Panthers) by two games for the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. At a minimum, the Patriots need the Panthers to win two games if they want a chance of securing the top pick.

Here’s the updated top five, via Tankathon:

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(Note: Strength of schedule is the first tiebreaker, with the team with the worse opponents’ winning percentage landing the higher pick. Tankathon uses remaining opponents in determining SOS.)

1. Chicago Bears, via 1-11 Carolina Panthers (.525 SOS)
2. New England Patriots, 3-10 (.524 SOS)
3. Arizona Cardinals, 3-10 (.558 SOS)
4. Washington Commanders, 4-9 (.524 SOS)
5. Chicago Bears, 4-8 (.471 SOS)

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The good news is New England almost certainly will retain control of the No. 2 pick through the weekend, as there’s a significant SOS gap between them and the Cardinals, who are on a bye.

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Furthermore, it remains this simple for the Patriots: If they lose the rest of their games, they’re guaranteed a top-three pick. And losing out likely still would net them the second overall pick unless they get some rotten luck from results around the league.

But things could get really interesting if the Patriots win another game, let alone a fifth. To that end, it all could come down to the season finale, when New England will host Zach Wilson and the New York Jets.

Featured image via Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports Images