The Buffalo Bills' revival the second half of the season has dropped them down to the No. 6 position for the 2011 NFL Draft, based on the current league standings.
If the Bills win one of their final two games, there is a pretty good chance they could fall back to ninth in the draft order.
The Bills (4-10) are tied with Detroit and Arizona for the fourth-worst record in the league. Carolina (2-12), Detroit (3-11) and Cincinnati (3-11) hold the bottom three positions. The tie-breaker for draft selection order is strength of schedule, with the team having the harder schedule picking later.
The Bills' schedule currently ranks as the second toughest in the league. Buffalo's 16 opponents (counting division opponents twice) have a winning percentage of .580. Only Cincinnati's schedule (at .584) ranks tougher at the moment. Of course, the schedule percentages change with every week's results.
The impact of the final two games on the draft seemed to be the farthest thing from the minds of the Bills' players and coaches Wednesday. They're obsessed with preparing to face New England on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills have lost 14 straight games and 19 of their last 20 to the Pats. New England (12-2) is tied for Atlanta with the best record in the NFL.
"Every win's important, every game's important," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "If you get enough of them, then you become one of those teams that everybody says, well, we've got to beat them. We're trying to beat a division opponent. They're a really good football team."
Asked what a home win over the Pats would mean for Bills fans, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said: "It would mean a lot. I mean I know that it's been a long season. It's been a long season for us and it's been a long season for (the fans). I think it would mean a lot just in terms of where we're headed as a team. I think they're probably waiting for one."
The Bills are 7 1/2 -point underdogs in Sunday's game. New England can clinch the AFC East title and home-field advantage through the conference playoffs with a win.
Buffalo also figures to be a big underdog in its season finale at the New York Jets on Jan. 2. That game probably will have an impact on the playoff seeding for the Jets (10-4).
When the Bills were 0-8 at midseason, they were staring at the No. 1 overall draft pick. Even entering their 13th game, they had a good chance at the No. 2 overall pick.
However, the Bills are on a two-game winning streak after victories over Cleveland and Miami, and Buffalo has won four of its last six.
What's the earliest the Bills could draft at this point? Since Carolina, Denver and Arizona all have played easier schedules than Buffalo, it's hard to see the Bills vaulting in front of them. Cincinnati has played a tougher schedule, but the Bengals also will be decided underdogs in their last two games -- home vs. San Diego and at Baltimore.
Detroit could get to five wins. The Lions play at Miami and close at home against a Minnesota team that has been ravaged by injuries. So drafting fifth is a distinct possibility for Buffalo.
What's the latest the Bills could draft? If the Bills won both their games they could drop to the low teens. If they win one, the farthest they could drop is to 11th.