The Carolina Panthers lost 27-3 last night to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a result that has a trickle-down effect on the Patriots. The Patriots own the Panthers' 2011 second-round draft choice, so the result strengthens the likelihood that the pick will be at the top of the round, 33rd overall.
The Panthers are 2-13, which is the worst record in the NFL. Their only "challengers" for the top pick are the Broncos (3-11) and Bengals (3-11).
Here is a look at the remaining schedules for those three teams:
Panthers: at Atlanta
Broncos: vs. Houston; vs. San Diego
Bengals: vs. San Diego; at Baltimore
So barring an upset, the Patriots will have the 33rd overall draft pick.
The original draft-day trade was a 2010 third-round pick (89th overall) in exchange for a 2011 second-rounder, so by waiting one year the team improves its position 56 spots.
This looks like a steal, especially when considering the Panthers selected quarterback-turned-receiver Armanti Edwards with the 89th overall pick. Edwards has played in two games this season.