2020 NFL Draft: Bengals vs. Falcons for No. 1 overall pick

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons is pressured by Wallace Gilberry #95 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Robert Geathers #91 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons is pressured by Wallace Gilberry #95 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Robert Geathers #91 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The No. 1 pick was the Dolphins’ to lose for the 2020 NFL Draft and they’ve lost it. Now it’s the Bengals and Falcons dueling for the top selection.

The battle for the bottom of the standings and the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft got very interesting in NFL Week 9. We thought worst record would be a runaway for the Miami Dolphins, but this past Sunday’s outcomes changed everything. The seemingly tanking Dolphins, who were designed to spearhead a rebuild, may not be the worst team in the league. Not even close.

On the back of a 21-point second quarter, Miami defeated the New York Jets 26-18 to boost itself out of last place in the league. This would have been an inexplicable outcome even just a month ago.

The Jets had a lot of expectations entering the season, as well as after the healthy return of Sam Darnold who departed with mono. Darnold is back and New York is as bad as ever, even though it wasn’t trying to be. This gave Miami a win and the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons a leg up. One will earn the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate the 2020 NFL Draft in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

To the surprise of almost everyone, the Dolphins have looked frisky in recent weeks, perhaps thinking they had a game or two buffer to the top overall draft pick. But thanks to ineptitude across the league, that is not the case. The Bengals moved into sole possession of last during their bye and now turn to a mid-round, rookie quarterback upon their return to the field. Consider them our front runner.

After Cincinnati, all of Miami, New York, Atlanta and the Washington Redskins have a single victory. The quintet is an interesting group. Only Miami was trying to be in this spot before the season. Cincy and Washington seemed to have embraced it, while New York and Atlanta are scratching their heads on how they arrived in such a spot.

At this point, after their performance against the Dolphins, it is hard to pick against the Jets in terms of reaching the top spot in the draft. However, I still like the spot that Washington and Cincinnati are in better.

The Jets have a very easy schedule the next five weeks. Everyone facing the Jets is glad to see them, but New York should stumble into at least a pair of wins the rest of the way. The key here is that the team’s quarterback and head coach are trying like heck to save their jobs. Darnold obviously has a longer leash than Adam Gase, but both are in hot water.

The same thing isn’t true for Cincinnati and Washington. The former just hired a brand new head coach who is very young and should have a longer chance than Gase in a similar spot. There is no chance the Bengals move on from Zac Taylor this season, especially after switching to Ryan Finley at quarterback. This buys everyone time to lose. And lose they will. Depending on how you feel about matchups with Cleveland, the Bengals only have two terrible opponents left.

In Washington, the coach is already out, and the rookie quarterback has already been yanked in and out of the lineup. There’s nothing else on the line the rest of the way. And the Redskins have the hardest schedule of the three from here on out.

Dan Salem:

The battle for the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is nearly as competitive as that for the top spot in the actual playoffs, you know the thing which every team is playing for except Miami. The Dolphins still hold a huge advantage in that they are actively trying to lose, but Cincinnati’s one game lead may prove insurmountable.

I would have argued that Andy Dalton could earn the Bengals a win, but now that the offense belongs to a late-round rookie, this appears unlikely. Washington has already defeated Miami, so even if they lose the rest of the way behind their own rookie signal caller, the Redskins still finish ahead of the Dolphins because of tiebreakers.

The Jets own the tiebreaker against Miami and have the “opportunity” to lose to both Cincinnati and Washington. This leaves Atlanta as the ultimate wild card in this debate.

The Falcons play in one of the toughest divisions in all of football. Their schedule the rest of the way reflects this and Matt Ryan is currently ailing. Not one game on Atlanta’s remaining schedule can be considered winnable without Ryan, but even with him its unlikely. This leaves the Falcons with only one victory. Once again it comes down to the Jets versus the Bengals and Bengals versus Dolphins, because Cincinnati remains the lone winless team of our quintet.

Next. Picks and Score Predictions for NFL Week 10. dark

What happens if the Bengals defeat the Dolphins? We likely end up with four, maybe five, one-win teams. The Jets have the best chance of getting a second victory and knocking themselves from this competition. Motivation is crucial, but New York also faces three of our five during their remaining schedule. I’m eliminating them, leaving four teams with only one victory.

Washington is out because they beat Miami. Depending on which team the Bengals defeat, they too might be eliminated if they defeat the Dolphins. My gut says the Falcons ultimately win this race for top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They have the hardest schedule and don’t play any of their competition.