Blog Entry

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

Posted on: December 27, 2010 12:22 pm
 

Here's what we are giving to the League at this point.  Too many permutations with NO/PHI/CHI/ATL based on games still left week 16 with some potential SOV messiness...so leaving some of this loose to keep it sensible.

 NFC

  CLINCHED:    Atlanta - playoff spot.
               Chicago - NFC North division.
               Philadelphia - NFC East division.
  ELIMINATED:  Carolina, Detroit, Washington, Dallas, Minnesota, Arizona,
               San Francisco.

 PHILADELPHIA Eagles
  Philadelphia has clinched NFC East division and still has a chance to earn a
 first-round bye and homefield advantage next week as of today.

 CHICAGO Bears
  Chicago has clinched NFC North division and still has a chance to earn a
 first-round bye and homefield advantage next week as of today.

 ATLANTA Falcons
  Atlanta clinches NFC South and homefield advantage with a win or tie against
 New Orleans tonight.  If Atlanta loses tonight, it still has a chance to win
 the NFC South, a first-round bye and homefield advantage next week.

 NEW ORLEANS Saints
  New Orleans clinches a playoff spot with a win or tie against Atlanta tonight
 and still has a chance to win the NFC South, a first-round bye and homefield
 advantage next week.  If New Orleans loses tonight, it can still clinch a
 playoff spot next week with:
  1) NO win or tie
  2) NYG loss or tie + GB loss or tie

 GREEN BAY Packers
  Green Bay clinches a playoff spot:
   1) GB win
   2) GB tie + NYG loss or tie + TB loss or tie
   3) NYG loss + TB loss

 NEW YORK Giants
  NY Giants clinch a playoff spot:
   1) NYG win + GB loss or tie
   2) NYG win + NO loses twice
   3) NYG tie + GB loss + TB loss or tie

 TAMPA BAY Buccaneers
  Tampa Bay clinches a playoff spot:
   1) TB win + NO loss to ATL + NYG loss or tie
   2) TB win + NO loss to ATL + GB loss or tie
   3) TB win + NYG loss or tie + GB loss or tie
   4) TB tie + NYG loss + GB loss 

 ST. LOUIS Rams
  St. Louis clinches NFC West division:
   1) STL win or tie

 SEATTLE Seahawks
  Seattle clinches NFC West division:
   1) SEA win

Comments

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: January 4, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Tiebreaker Language

After thinking about this for a bit, I agree that if all teams have played all the others, then best W-L-T pct. is the best tiebreaker.  The whole arguement I made previously about a team being penalized b/c an additional team is in the mix is a secondary, weaker argument.  Think about a case where a team holds wild card tiebreakers, but is held out of the tiebreak because a divisional foe defeats them in the divisional tiebreakers and that foe then loses the wild card tiebreaks.  Clearly, a different set of teams involved in the tiebreak is it's own situation.

I do find it flabbergasting that the NFL would potentially use a head-to-head round-robin as a wild card tiebreaker, but not officially capture that in their (otherwise very thorough) tiebreaker language.  I mean, are all the GMs and head coaches aware of this?  It just seems that it could create a huge controversy, considering this is the first step in the wild card tiebreak.



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: December 31, 2010 4:01 pm
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios


Vito, I concur with what Jeff said. But, you make a good point about team C being penalized by team B being involved in the 3-way tie. Unfotunately, this can be the case with many of the tiebreakers (where one team's tiebreak position relative to another is affected by a separate team). Even in the divisional head-to-head example: If A is 3-1, B is 2-2, and C is 1-3, it could be the case that A split with C, A beat B twice, and C lost to B twice. You could make the same argument here that C is being penalized for team B being involved in the tiebreaker.



Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: December 31, 2010 7:48 am
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

Vito, I believe the very question you're asking is one of the reasons for a lot of the discussion on this blog about changing some of the wording of the current tiebreaker rules. I believe Joe has said in the recent past that if in a 3-way or 4-way tie, that all teams played each other, yet there existed no H2H sweep, the league would still consider the combined H2H record of all games played between the tied teams. In addition to the 3-way tie scenario you mentioned where one of the 3 games was tied, people have also brought up the possibility of a 4-way tie where all 4 teams played each other, and their H2H records were 2-1, 2-1, 1-2, 1-2. There could also be numerous other possible combinations of W, L, T in a potential 4-team tiebreaker. Despite the tiebreaker rules only mentioning H2H sweep, and not combined H2H record, Joe has claimed that the league would break the tie at the H2H level if all tied teams had a H2H matchup, even if no team swept the others and none was swept by the others.



Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: December 31, 2010 7:28 am
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

bretteis6 - Those are valid points.  As I've been trying to enumerate the H2H combinations, I have been treating ties and not playing as different scenarios.


But you bring up something very interesting, that I was also going to bring up for further clarification.  In a three-team non-divisional tiebreak, where all teams have played, what if there is a tie?  So as you point out, Team A 1-0-1, Team B at 1-1, and Team C at 0-1-1, obviously Team A has be best winning pct.  But I'm not convinced they would advance in this situation.

 

In a divisional tiebreak, the first tiebreaker is

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs)
So divisional play, everyone plays 2x, so let's say a/b split, a defeats and ties c, and b/c split.  Team A is 2-1-1, Team B 2-2, Team C is 1-2-1.  Team A wins the tiebreak - best WTL pct.

In a wild card (non-divisional) tiebreak, the language is different:
  1. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
So A defeats B, B defeats C, and A ties C.  I don't see this fitting the above language.

The argument for, as you note, is the overall winning pct - although the language does not state that.  But the argument against is a follows.  In a true sweep (2-0, 1-1, 0-2), the advancing team would have advance regardless of weather Team B or Team C are involved (e.g. Team A wins a two-team H2H against Team B, and Team A wins a two-team H2H against Team C).  In the case above, Team A would advance H2H against Team B, but H2H Team A vs. Team C is non-separating and moves to the next step.  In other words, Team C is penalized for Team B being involved in the tiebreaker.

Perhaps others can weigh in on this.





Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: December 30, 2010 5:30 pm
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

Vito, you said, .."And in terms of a H2H tiebreaker, there is no difference between tying and no playing - no separation was gained in either case. "

In terms of sweeps, yes! But not true for all H2H tiebraekers. If, H2H, A is 1-0-1, B is 1-1-0, and C is 0-1-1, then A is declared the winner on the basis of "best combined head-to-head record", despite there being no sweep. Whereas if the tie between A and C was removed so that A is 1-0-0, B is 1-1-0, and C is 0-1-0, head-to-head record is no longer used to break this tie.


I too found that in the current scheduling format, only 24 of the possible 256 4-team combinations per conference lend themselves to the possiblility of a group sweep. However, it should be noted that in a separate 4 of the 256 4-team combinations per conference, there is a complete set of head-to-head games (all 4 teams play each of the other 3 teams). So technically, a "group sweep" could exist in these 4 combinations as well, except we aren't counting these 4 since "combined head-to-head record" will naturally eliminate a swept group of teams" without classifying it is a sweep.



Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: December 30, 2010 11:55 am
 

Group Sweep

Jeff - I agree with your points that the group sweep has no bearing on divisional tiebreakers.  If 5 teams were tied (and each division represented), the divisional tiebreakers would determine which team was left out of the 4-team tiebreak.  Therefore, no possibility for a 3rd place team to jump a 2nd place team in it's division.


Database- Thanks for the breakdown of the H2H permutations.  Which is what they are - there are a lot of duplicated scenarios within that 4164 number.  What I'd be interested (I'm in the process of doing this) is finding all the "families" of ties (as you call them).  This would be the unique scenario combinations of a H2H tie.


A couple thoughts.  First, in the two-team scenario, you've specified 4 scenarios (permutations)- home team win, loss, or tie, or teams do not play.  Really that's 3 (maybe 2) combinations.  Team A wins, Team A ties, or Team A/B did not play.  And in terms of a H2H tiebreaker, there is no difference between tying and no playing - no separation was gained in either case.


Second, some of those 4164 permutations are not possible due to current league scheduling formulas.  But I think you want to keep the conversation theorectial, so that tiebreaker rules and wording need not change if there are future changes (games / season, # playoff teams, # divisions, etc.)  I think this is a good goal.


In terms of getting traction for the NFL to actually use this - assuming you have those connections - the most difficult thing is explaining the scenario succinctly in English.  But also, I think it is useful to compare it to other H2H sweep and near-sweep conditions.  Many of these points you have already made, so pardon the repition.  Right now, in a 3-team or 4-team H2H sweep it is NOT a condition that all teams play all other teams (round-robin).  That is true in the group sweep scenarios (all 3 families).  However, each team has to play at least 1 game against any of the team in the tiebreak - also true in the Group Sweep scenarios.


I guess the main point, is if A and B sweep C and D, then A and B should advance to the next step.  Removing any team in this 4-team scenario creates a 3-team H2H sweep scenrio with either A or B (or both) advancing to the next step.











Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: December 30, 2010 4:45 am
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

Once more to Chili, I'm not exactly sure why you turned the discussion about 4-way ties into a referendum on the negative aspects of 4-team divisions, but I'll attempt to debate some of these issues with you. You've made a number of different arguments in a couple of posts on a couple of different threads, so I'll try to address everything I found questionable. First of all, if you're interested in talking to the Competition Committee, you should try to learn how to avoid wild exaggerations and baseless arguments. "Having Indy in a Division with three weak teams was also ridiculous for years -   it also gave Indy 6 easy wins every years and the fans were bored out of their minds" Did it ever occur to you that the reason you saw those other 3 teams as weak was because they all had to play the Colts twice a year, rather than the reason the Colts were good being because they were in a weak division. Here are the number of games won by each AFC division since 2002: West 281, North 290, East 305, South 312. Here are the number of wild card berths in the AFC since 2002: West 3, East 4, North 5, South 6. Every year since 2002, the 2nd place team in the AFC south either earned a wild card, or was within one game of tying for a wild card berth, although that streak could end this year. For 4 straight years from 2006-09, the 3rd place team in the AFC South had at least 8 wins.  While 2010 has been a down year for the division, due to the second half slumps of HOU and TEN, along with the Colts not reaching their usual 12+ wins, the AFC South as a whole has been one of the best divisions in the league over the last 5 years, and since 2002 is well above average. There is absolutely no basis for making the argument that IND was "in a Division with three weak teams  for years".


Now to address some of your other arguments, against 4-team divisions in general.  I don't really understand why you have such a problem with this.  Yes, with just 4 teams in a division there will be years where there is 1 good team and 3 bad teams in a division. Sometimes there might be 3 good teams and 1 bad team. Sometimes there might be 4 decent teams, but none really good or bad. There could even be a year where all 4 teams in a division are bad to mediocre, such as the 2010 NFC West. Do you think none of these things would happen if there were 5 or 6 teams in each division? Or what  if there were 4 8-team divisions?  With 8-team divisions, there would almost certainly be at least one good or great team in each division, but then what? Are you in favor of only having 4 playoff teams? Would there be a set number of wild card berths for non-division winners, or would you take a set number of teams from each division? What if you gave playoff spots to the top 3 in each division and one division had 3 8-8 teams tied for 3rd, while another division had an 11-5 team in 4th? That would be not unlike the situation the Patriots faced in 2008, or possibly the same fate as a 10-6 Giants and/or Bucs team this year.


You mentioned something on the other thread about 12 playoff teams being too many. Would you rather there were only 4? Or maybe 6 or 8? The thing is, there is no way that the number of playoff teams is ever going to go down, probably in any of the 4 major sports. I'm not an expert on the history of the league, but I know they brought in the wild-card in 1970 when they made the post-merger change to 3 divisions per conference.The addition of a 2nd wild card team in each conference came in 1978, followed by a 3rd wild card in 1990, bringing the total number of playoff teams to 12, which it has been for 20 years now. I'm sure there were many reasons why the league continued to expand the playoffs, most probably having to do with money. More playoff teams means more playoff games, which means more games to sell tickets to, more games to sell TV rights to, more merchandise sold, etc. etc. etc.  It also means more teams can stay in playoff contention, giving their fans more reason to follow the team, and also creates a great deal of excitement as people can follow a many different scenarios and situations as the playoff races come down the stretch. The very forum we are on right now would probably not exist if the NFL only had 4 or 6 playoff teams each season.


Now to the reasons that the NFL went from 6 to 8 divisions in 2002. I'm not entirely sure what their reasoning was, but it seems pretty clear that it makes sense to have the same number of teams in each division. From 1995 to 1998 there were 6 divisions with 5 teams each, but once Cleveland and Houston were added, obviously the league felt that a change was in order so they decided to go to 8 4-team divisions. After 9 years, I can say that I absolutely love the current format, the way the playoffs are set up, the way the scheduling rotation works, and I have no issues with the way the league chose to split the divisions up.  Under the current format, every team is guaranteed to play every team in its own conference at least once every 3 years, and every team in the other conference every 4 years. With the old divisions of mostly 5 teams, there was not a full schedule rotation, and there were often cases where 2 teams didn't play each other for 10 or 15 years, or one team didn't visit another city for 20 or 30 years. The current system avoids these issues, so when there are great teams, such as the Steelers of the 70s 49ers of the 80s, or great players, such as Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, etc., every team in the league will have the opportunity to face these great teams and players every few years, and even though 8 years is a long time to wait, fans in every NFL city should have at least one opportunity to see every great player who comes through the league.


Many people like to complain and nitpick about things like: "Why is Indianapolis in the South? Why isn't Miami in the South? Why is Dallas in the East? etc." Well, the reasons are pretty simple, and I liked the way the league set things up. The NFL divisions are not based purely on geography, but also on history and tradition. The AFC East and West both contain 4 former AFL teams, so it made perfect sense to keep these teams together, since they have been playing each other twice a season for about 50 years now. They could have put MIA in the South, IND in the North, and BAL in the East, but history and tradition made the other way make a lot more sense. PIT, CIN, CLE, and BAL all made sense in the North, as all 4 teams are pretty close together, and all shared some degree of history, cloudy as it may be with the unique situation of the Browns/Ravens history. That left IND, TEN, JAC, and HOU, all teams with very little history under their current names and in their current cities, so it made sense for all 4 to start fresh with a new division. In 20 or 30 years, assuming the league looks similar to the way it does now, there could be a whole generation of people who grew up on Colts-Jaguars, Colts-Texans, or Titans-Jaguars rivalries, much like there are people now who grew up on Giants-Redskins, Bears-Packers, or Raiders/Chiefs.


I don't see any reason the NFL would abandon the current 4-team divisions, barring future expansion. The idea of 4 8-team divisions seems crazy to me. If there were 4 8-team divisions, each team would have to play its 7 division opponents twice each, making for 14 division games. That would leave just 2 games outside the division (or 4 with the potential move to an 18-game season), which would mean that teams would virtually never play many of the teams that were outside their division. That would go completely against the precedent the NFL set with the establishment of the current schedule rotation in 2002. If teams didn't play each division opponent twice, then there would be unfair scenarios such as one team going 4-3 in the division while playing 4 home games, while another team goes 3-4 playing 4 road games. Plus any time 2 teams are tie for the top spot in their division, one would have the clear advantage of getting to host the one meeting between the two teams. College football conferences have always had just one meeting between teams, but the NFL has always had 2 meetings between all division teams, and I don't see any reason for them to change that now.


While it is unfortunate that the NFC West was so bad this season, there are always going to be up and down periods over the course of time, no matter how many teams are in each division. From 2004 to 2008, the 4 AFC East teams combined to win the following numbers of games: 37, 28, 35, 28, 38. That yearly fluctuation was mostly due to the Jets not showing up for odd-numbered seasons, but every other division has also had up years and down years.  The NFC West is actually on an upswing, having won 22 games in 2008, 24 in 2009, and will finish with 25 this year. The division has still sent 4 teams to the Super Bowl since 1999, and all 4 teams have won the division since 2002, something only 2 other division can claim. (NFC south and AFC West)




Sorry if some of this seems kind of disjointed, but I wanted to address as many of your points as I could get to, and I don't know if I tied them together very well.  I hope none of this comes off as overly argumentative or mean-spirited. I certainly respect your right to your opinions, even if they are all completely wrong.Tongue out I'm certainly more than willing to listen to anyone tell my how full of crap I am, so feel free to tell me how wrong I am about any or all of this.



Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: December 30, 2010 4:26 am
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

Once more to Chili, I'm not exactly sure why you turned the discussion about 4-way ties into a referendum on the negative aspects of 4-team divisions, but I'll attempt to debate some of these issues with you. You've made a number of different arguments in a couple of posts on a couple of different threads, so I'll try to address everything I found questionable. First of all, if you're interested in talking to the Competition Committee, you should try to learn how to avoid wild exaggerations and baseless arguments. "Having Indy in a Division with three weak teams was also ridiculous for years -   it also gave Indy 6 easy wins every years and the fans were bored out of their minds" Did it ever occur to you that the reason you saw those other 3 teams as weak was because they all had to play the Colts twice a year, rather than the reason the Colts were good being because they were in a weak division. Here are the number of games won by each AFC division since 2002: West 281, North 290, East 305, South 312. Here are the number of wild card berths in the AFC since 2002: West 3, East 4, North 5, South 6. Every year since 2002, the 2nd place team in the AFC south either earned a wild card, or was within one game of tying for a wild card berth, although that streak could end this year. For 4 straight years from 2006-09, the 3rd place team in the AFC South had at least 8 wins.  While 2010 has been a down year for the division, due to the second half slumps of HOU and TEN, along with the Colts not reaching their usual 12+ wins, the AFC South as a whole has been one of the best divisions in the league over the last 5 years, and since 2002 is well above average. There is absolutely no basis for making the argument that IND was "in a Division with three weak teams  for years".


Now to address some of your other arguments, against 4-team divisions in general.  I don't really understand why you have such a problem with this.  Yes, with just 4 teams in a division there will be years where there is 1 good team and 3 bad teams in a division. Sometimes there might be 3 good teams and 1 bad team. Sometimes there might be 4 decent teams, but none really good or bad. There could even be a year where all 4 teams in a division are bad to mediocre, such as the 2010 NFC West. Do you think none of these things would happen if there were 5 or 6 teams in each division? Or what  if there were 4 8-team divisions?  With 8-team divisions, there would almost certainly be at least one good or great team in each division, but then what? Are you in favor of only having 4 playoff teams? Would there be a set number of wild card berths for non-division winners, or would you take a set number of teams from each division? What if you gave playoff spots to the top 3 in each division and one division had 3 8-8 teams tied for 3rd, while another division had an 11-5 team in 4th? That would be not unlike the situation the Patriots faced in 2008, or possibly the same fate as a 10-6 Giants and/or Bucs team this year.


You mentioned something on the other thread about 12 playoff teams being too many. Would you rather there were only 4? Or maybe 6 or 8? The thing is, there is no way that the number of playoff teams is ever going to go down, probably in any of the 4 major sports. I'm not an expert on the history of the league, or the reasons for every addition to the number of playoff teams, but I know they brought in the wild-card in 1970 when they made the post-merger change to 3 divisions per conference.The addition of a 2nd wild card team in each conference came in 1978, followed by a 3rd wild card in 1990, bringing the total number of playoff teams to 12, which it has been for 20 years now. I'm sure there were many reasons why the league continued to expand the playoffs, most probably having to do with money. More playoff teams means more playoff games, which means more games to sell tickets to, more games to sell TV rights to, more merchandise sold, etc. etc. etc.  It also means more teams can stay in playoff contention, giving their fans more reason to follow the team, and also creates a great deal of excitement as people can follow many different scenarios and possibilities as the playoff races come down the stretch. The very forum we are on right now would probably not exist if the NFL only had 4 or 6 playoff teams each season.


Now to the reasons that the NFL went from 6 to 8 divisions in 2002. I'm not entirely sure what their reasoning was, but it seems pretty clear that it makes sense to have the same number of teams in each division. From 1995 to 1998 there were 6 divisions with 5 teams each, but once Cleveland and Houston were added, obviously the league felt that a change was in order so they decided to go to 8 4-team divisions. After 9 years, I can say that I absolutely love the current format, the way the playoffs are set up, the way the scheduling rotation works, and I have no issues with the way the league chose to split the divisions up.  Under the current format, every team is guaranteed to play every team in its own conference at least once every 3 years, and every team in the other conference every 4 years. With the old divisions of mostly 5 teams, there was not a full schedule rotation, and there were often cases where 2 teams didn't play each other for 10 or 15 years, or one team didn't visit another city for 20 or 30 years. The current system avoids these issues, so when there are great teams, such as the Steelers of the 70s 49ers of the 80s, or great players, such as Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, etc., every team in the league will have the opportunity to face these great teams and players every few years, and even though 8 years is a long time to wait, fans in every NFL city should have at least one opportunity to see every great player who comes through the league.


Many people like to complain and nitpick about things like: "Why is Indianapolis in the South? Why isn't Miami in the South? Why is Dallas in the East? etc." Well, the reasons are pretty simple, and I liked the way the league set things up. The NFL divisions are not based purely on geography, but also on history and tradition. The AFC East and West both contain 4 former AFL teams, so it made perfect sense to keep these teams together, since they have been playing each other twice a season for about 50 years now. They could have put MIA in the South, IND in the North, and BAL in the East, but history and tradition made the other way make a lot more sense. PIT, CIN, CLE, and BAL all made sense in the North, as all 4 teams are pretty close together, and all shared some degree of history, cloudy as it may be with the unique situation of the Browns/Ravens franchises. That left IND, TEN, JAC, and HOU, all teams with very little history under their current names and in their current cities, so it made sense for all 4 to start fresh with a new division. In 20 or 30 years, assuming the league looks similar to the way it does now, there could be a whole generation of fans who grew up on Colts-Jaguars, Colts-Texans, or Titans-Jaguars rivalries, much like there are people now who grew up on Giants-Redskins, Bears-Packers, or Raiders/Chiefs.


I don't see any reason the NFL would abandon the current 4-team divisions, barring future expansion. The idea of 4 8-team divisions seems crazy to me. If there were 4 8-team divisions, each team would have to play its 7 division opponents twice each, making for 14 division games. That would leave just 2 games outside the division (or 4 with the potential move to an 18-game season), which would mean that teams would virtually never play many of the teams that were outside their division. That would go completely against the precedent the NFL set with the establishment of the current schedule rotation in 2002. If teams didn't play each division opponent twice, then there would be unfair scenarios such as one team going 4-3 in the division while playing 4 home games, while another team goes 3-4 playing 4 road games. Also, suppose two teams were tied for the division lead going into the last game of the season, when they are scheduled to face each other.  Whichever team is at home would have a huge advantage, and the whole competitive balance of the league rests on avoiding inequities such as this. This would be similar to college football conferences where teams have always played just once per season, so one team does get a home-field advantage in their sole meeting with each other team. The NFL has never operated this way however, and I don't see any need for them to change at this point.


While it is unfortunate that the NFC West was so bad this season, there are always going to be up and down periods over the course of time, no matter how many teams are in each division. From 2004 to 2008, the 4 AFC East teams combined to win the following numbers of games: 37, 28, 35, 28, 38. That yearly fluctuation was mostly due to the Jets not showing up for odd-numbered seasons, but every other division has also had up years and down years.  The NFC West is actually on an upswing, having won 22 games in 2008, 24 in 2009, and will finish with 25 this year. Just because no team will win more than 8 games doesn't mean it is the worst division in the history of sports.(although I admit it may very well be) The division has still sent 4 teams to the Super Bowl since 1999, and all 4 teams have won the division since 2002, something only 2 other division can claim. (NFC south and AFC West) Things will turn around in the next couple of years, and I am pretty sure the NFL knows better than to make some drastic change to a proven system based solely on a couple of poor years by a group of 4 teams.




Sorry if some of this seems kind of disjointed, but I wanted to address as many of your points as I could get to, and I don't think I tied them all together very well. I hope none of this comes off as overly argumentative or mean-spirited. I certainly respect your right to your opinions, even if they are all completely wrong.Tongue out I'm certainly more than willing to listen to anyone tell my how full of crap I am, so feel free to disagree with any or all of what I have written here.



Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:50 am
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios

All right Mr. Chili, I am going to attempt to address the points you have brought up, and I think I should do them separately since they are really completely different topics. I think that everyone that has been involved in the discussion realizes that for this "group sweep" idea to actually come into play, it must involve teams from 4 different divisions.  That is where the talk came from about how possible it is under the current scheduling format, and how common it would be. As Vito pointed out, with the current format, in each conference, there are 24 different groups of 4 teams that could end up tied and possibly have records of 2-0, 2-0, 0-2, and 0-2 against each other.

 
This year there were 6 AFC groups and 3 NFC groups that actually did end up with those records. Now none of those groups included 4 teams that are all in the playoff race, but as I pointed out a few posts back, in 2009 there was one involving NE, CIN, HOU, and DEN, 4 teams that all were in contention for the playoffs. As I pointed out, if NYJ and BAL had won their divisions, then NE and CIN would have been contending for wild cards, along with HOU and DEN, so it could have been possible for this group sweep situation to come up. Now granted, the 3 little changes I made to game results would not have necessarily resulted in the 4-way tie at 9-7, since NE and CIN both lost games at the end of the year when they weren't trying their hardest, but the point remains that a "group sweep" scenario could have been a factor in last year's playoff picture.


One more thing, it is also possible that instead of 4 second place teams winding up in a 4-way tie for the wild card spots, there could also come a time when all 4 first place teams have the same record, and it is just as possible that a group sweep could come into play for those 4 teams. A couple historical examples are 1980, when with 3 divisions in the AFC, BUF, CLE, HOU, SD, and OAK all ended up in a 5-way tie for the best record in the conference at 11-5.  In 1992, still with 3 divisions, MIA, BUF, PIT, and SD tied for the best record in the AFC at 11-5. (Interestingly enough, the 1980 Raiders and 1992 Bills both fell to wild card spots on tiebreakers, yet both still made it to the Super Bowl.) 


In the 4-division era that began in 2002, there has yet to be a year in which all 4 division winners from a conference were within one game of each other, but there has been a 3-way tie for first, in the 2002 NFC, and a 3-way tie for second, in the 2005 NFC. So it is theoretically possible to have a 4-way tie featuring teams from all 4 divisions, it is just pretty unlikely and has not happened yet in the 9 years of the current format.


You also said this: "The group sweep proposal may actually allow a third place team to get a wildcard and leave the second place team home."


Unless I've misread something, I'm pretty sure that database, who was the first to bring up this issue, and everyone else who has weighted in on the topic has always been intending this to only apply to a case where there was a 4-way tie that included teams from all 4 divisions. It would never allow a 3rd place team to leapfrog a 2nd place team in the same division. It would not have to necessarily include all 4 1st or 2nd place teams. If a 2nd place team took the first wild card at 10-6, the 3rd place team from that division could be tied at 9-7 with the 2nd place team from the other 3 divisions. For example, this year NO could take the first wildcard at 11-5, and there could be a 3-way tie at 9-7 with NYG, GB, and TB for the second wildcard. If SEA and STL had won a few more games, one of them could take the division, and the other could be tied at 9-7 with the other 3 teams for the second wild card spot. TB could earn a wild card as a 3rd place team, but not at the expense of the 2nd place team in their own division.


As to your issue with the 4-team divisions, particularly regarding the AFC South,  I think I'll address that in a separate post.



Since: Dec 28, 2009
Posted on: December 29, 2010 11:49 pm
 

Early Week 17 NFC Clinching Scenarios



One thing we are missing on the "group sweep"


Right now, a team has to finish SECOND to be in the wildcard tiebreaker.



So each division goes through the tiebreakers and the third place team is held back



The "group sweep" proposal may actually allow a third place team to get a wildcard and leave the second place team home.



As it stands now, the only way a 4-way tie would have to be broken is if there are tied teams from all 4 divisions, all in second place.  Highly unlikely, especially this year in the NFC

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The real issue is having 8 Divisions is ridiculous.    
  There is too much uneveness in performance and scheduling


We need less Divisions and these ridiculous situations will not develop all the time


Having Indy in a Division with three weak teams was also ridiculous for years -   it also gave Indy 6 easy wins every years and the fans were bored out of their minds


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A four team division makes little sense.    Two teams, on average, have to have losing records.    So two teams are competing to win the Division, and half who don't win get a wildcard     Not very interesting.


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