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NFL Draft 2015: Buccaneers guaranteed top pick if they lose to the Saints

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will get to pick whoever the best player in the 2015 NFL draft is, unless they beat the New Orleans Saints.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold the top pick in the 2015 NFL draft if they lose to the New Orleans Saints next week, regardless of what happens in any other games. If they beat the New Orleans Saints, they'll get the second overall pick unless the Tennessee Titans also beat the Indianapolis Colts -- in which case they'd go back to holding the first overall pick.

Losing to the Saints may be easier said than done, however: neither the Bucs nor the Saints have anything left to play for, and the Saints have put up quite a few stinkers this year, most notably a 41-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago. But the Bucs don't have anything to play for, either, and they've already started rotating in younger players.

The Titans and Bucs are tied at 2-13 right now. If they are still tied after next week's games, the team with the weakest strength of schedule will get the top pick in the draft. That team is guaranteed to be the Buccaneers. The only teams capable of affecting the Bucs' or Titans' strength of schedule are the St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington and the New York Jets -- and that's not enough to flip the current order, no matter what happens.

Those games are the only ones to affect either team's schedule because every NFL team faces a divisional opponent in week 17. That means the Bucs and Titans will get both a win and a loss out of almost all of the matchups on their schedule, changing nothing about the relative standings. Several other games feature opponents shared by the Bucs and Titans both, and hence would not change the relative standings either.

So that means the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to do one thing and one thing only to be guaranteed the opportunity to select the best player in the 2015 NFL draft: lose to the New Orleans Saints.