While much of the NFL world was focused on the battles for playoff positions and seeding in Week 18, those in Houston and Chicago were focused on the battle for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Houston’s path was simple, as a loss would lock up the worst record in the league and give them the first overall selection and, presumably, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Chicago needed a loss against Minnesota and a Houston win over Indianapolis, which was starting Sam Ehlinger and is coached by Jeff Saturday, thus very much in play for the top pick. The Bears got the first part of that equation done in style, as Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle combined to put up 13 points in a 29-13 loss that was never in doubt, falling to 3-14 on the year.
In Indy, we were treated to a wild game between two teams with a combined six wins, as the Texans jumped in front by double digits early, saw Ehlinger lead a comeback to go up 31-24, and then had Davis Mills complete two ridiculous fourth down passes on Houston’s final drive. The first was a 4th and 12 dart down the sideline to keep their chances at a win alive, and the second was a 4th and 20 heave to the end zone that, somehow, the Colts whiffed on.
The Colts apparently didn’t watch enough NFL Primetime back in the day, because Tom Jackson always told us to “KNOCK IT DOWN!” Then, the Texans went for two because who wants overtime, and Mills again found a receiver in the end zone to put Houston up 32-31.
— NFL (@NFL) January 8, 2023
Ehlinger could only get the Colts to just shy of midfield before time ran out on their effort at a game-winning drive, locking up the No. 1 pick for the Bears and dropping Houston, at 3-13-1, to the second overall pick. That means the Bears figure to be open for business, shopping the top pick to quarterback starved teams (including, possibly, the Texans), as they know Justin Fields is their guy and will be looking to add multiple picks so they can bolster their roster and address a number of needs.