Blog Entry

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:44 pm
It's that time of year again where we dive into all of the various NFL playoff race possibilities...including division clinching scenarios, homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, wild card spots, seeding possibilities and the inevitable elimination scenarios and ultimately draft positioning.

This year, much like last year, I'm going to post tiebreaker updates to this blog on a regular basis, react to scenario questions both in the blog and in appropriate threads and work with the production team on providing the earliest and most up-to-date playoff scenarios available.  I will also have live updates available on Twitter and Facebook at @NFL_Tiebreakers and
.  Following there DURING NFL games will provide updates for you the same way I do with CBS Sports and team personnel with an interest in scenarios.

Also, the team has come up with some nice updates to the PLAYOFF RACE page with easier to read "Remaining games" pop up when you mouse over teams AND added the Note tag that provides tiebreaking notes from bottom of the page in pop up form as well. 

For some background, I handled the official tiebreakers for the NFL from the 1992 playoffs through the 1999 season and have worked with the League and their official stats source (Elias Sports Bureau) in compiling the official tiebreaker scenarios since leaving the League to join CBS SportsLine in 2000.  I have transitioned jobs from Executive Producer at CBS SportsLine (now to being the liaison for CBS Interactive to the CBS Entertainment Network and CBS TV Studios in Los Angeles...but I keep my fingers in sports through this venture and working with the CBS Sports division and various NFL teams and media outlets on playoff scenarios.  This allows to publish what is typically the FIRST look at what will be OFFICIAL NFL tiebreaker scenarios.  I'll try and blog my way through the you can get an insight into your favorite teams prospects (or maybe your mortal enemies) and get a better understanding how NFL Tiebreakers work and the interesting nuances that will surface.

As I stated last year, please DON'T BE SHY with the questions as I often get extremely insightful feedback from fans and closet tiebreaker gurus (there are many of you out there that will be ever-present on this board...and I LOVE IT!) that help me along the way.

This is sure to be a complicated, challenging tiebreaker season (especially in the AFC) but will no doubt be very enjoyable as always.

FYI:  INDY is still alive in the playoff race at 0-10 as they can still get to 6-10 and can win multiple team tiebreakers on conf record.  SF can clinch the NFC West during Week 12 with EITHER a WIN at BAL Turkey night + SEA loss or tie OR a TIE at BAL and SEA loss.

Stay Tuned! 

Joe Ferreira

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: November 25, 2011 1:04 am

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

packfan53325:  You have it pretty much right, but I'll further analyze the situation where GB caould possibly clinch a 1st round bye in week 13.  For that to happen, NO must lose to NYG this week, then beat DET the following week  You also need a DAL loss and 2 CHI losses with a GB win over NYG.  What you'll have here is GB would have the h2h tiebreaker over either NO or ATL and a better record than DAL or NYG.  

For the previous elimination scenarios I had for week 12, Carolina was saved from elimination as a result of the DET loss.  St. Louis and MIN can be eliminated with losses.  

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: November 24, 2011 4:16 pm

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

Hi Joe and fellow playoff scenario experts!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these are the clinching scenarios for the Packers next week (excluding ties).

GB clinches a playoff berth with: 1) a win @ NYG, OR 2) two Cowboys losses + a Falcons loss (Wk 12 or Wk 13).

1) If they win, the Giants will have 5 losses. They can't catch the Packers. Green Bay would also hold head to head tiebreakers on Atlanta in a tie at 12-4.

2) Two Cowboys losses would give them 6 losses. The worst Green Bay can do is 5 losses. And one Falcons loss gives them 5 losses. GB holds the head to head tiebreaker.

As for the NFC North division title...

GB clinches the NFC North division title with: 1) a win + two Bears losses + a Lions loss.

1) a win puts the Packers at 12 wins. The best the Bears and Lions could do is 11 wins. If they don't get all this to happen, both the Bears/Lions can still catch the Packers on common opponents.

And for a first round bye...

GB clinches a first-round bye with: 1) a win + two Bears losses + a Lions loss + one Saints loss + one Cowboys loss.

1) I explained how they can win the division above. A Saints loss gives them 4 losses. Packers own head to head tiebreaker. A Cowboys loss gives them 5 losses. GB can't clinch if the Cowboys have 4 losses still as they could still win a tiebreaker at 12-4.

Do I have this all correct?

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: November 24, 2011 11:04 am

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

agn: If both GB and SF finish 15-1, here's the possibilities for the #1 seed:

If GB loss is to either OAK or KC, GB gets it due to conference record (12-0 vs 11-1)
If GB loses to CHI, the #1 seed will be determined by SoV, which now favors GB.
If GB loses to either DET or NYG, SF gets the #1 seed to due better record vs. common opponents.

Your second question has way too many scenarios where both teams tie at 14-2.  For the SF losses, the ones least likely to hurt them are to BAL or PIT, as those are non-conference games.  At 14-2, if SF's other loss were to STL, then GB would either need two losses to DET or one loss each to DET and NYG to clinch the #1 seed based on common opponents. 

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: November 23, 2011 12:32 pm

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

Let's look at the other end of the spectrum from IND.

How are the scenarios shaping up for GB and SF at 15-1?

Can GB afford to lose a game and still win the 15-1 TB? If so, which one(s)? This will go a long way in determining how much or how long they will press for perfection.

Is there an SF loss along the way that would clinch any 14-2 scenario for GB?  If so, which one(s)?

Since: Nov 20, 2007
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:01 am

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

Howdy all,

I am looking forward to these final 6 weeks of the season and seeing how all these playoff scenarios all play out.  Great to see all the old gang here and some new members to the madness as well.  I don't do as much calculating as I was able to do in the 2007 season, since I was out of work at that time, but I do read all the blog posts for all of the great info that they include.  I will still throw out a few tidbits here and there with what is probably already known info.  Thanks again Joe for all you do for us here.  It's greatly appreciated.  Here's to an awesome final 6 weeks.   

Here's one of my little obvious tidbits to throw out:

Indy can only be as high as the 6 seed if they win out and Cincy loses out.  Indy would require some other team or teams to finish 6-10 also, as they lost to Cincy heads up and cannot win a 2 team tiebreaker with them.

In the NFC, the Vikings and Rams both are eliminated from winning their divisions, but both can still make it as high as the 5 seed as a Wild Card team. 

One thing that makes the NFC seemingly an easier conference to break ties this year is that the current 7th and 8th place teams(Dallas/NY Giants and Atlanta) at 6-4, have a 2 game lead over the 9th to 11th place teams(Philly, Tampa Bay, and Seattle) who are all 4-6.  Of course we all know that this can change and lets hope it does.  :)


Since: Dec 12, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 9:35 pm

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

Do you know if there are any teams that could have clinched in the weekend of their 10th games, but failed?...

Good question.  I remember that last year, one of the posters had inquired when was the last time there had been no playoff clinching scenarios prior to Week 14.  We actually had to go back to the 2000 season for the last time that had happened.  While going through official NFL playoff scenarios, I do remember reviewing that rare possible early clinching for GB in 2002.  Going into Week 11, the Packers needed a win + DET loss.  As you mentioned, GB lost to MIN in an early 1:00 game so they did not clinch.  DET did lose to the Jets later that day and the CHI outcome in their MNF game at STL did not factor in GB scenario as the Bears would have lost to GB on division record (4-2 to Bears’ 3-3).  If GB had won vs. Min coupled with the Lions’ loss, the 2002 Packers would have become the earliest team to clinch a division title in a 16-game season.  The following week (Week 12), GB needed a win + MIN loss or tie OR tie + DET loss or tie + MIN loss.  MIN did lose their game at NE but again GB failed to clinch after they lost later that day at Tampa Bay.  Finally the Packers won the NFC North title when they defeated CHI in Week 13.  As far as I checked that was the only instance in which a team had the opportunity to clinch a division crown on the weekend of their 10th game since the advent of the 16-game schedule.  (On a side note, the 2007 Patriots had clinched their division in Week 12 when they were still 10-0 when the Bills lost at Jac early at 1:00 before the PHI-NE SNF game kicked off but this was in the weekend of their 11th game).  Since the merger, we also had the 1973 Vikings who clinched their division in Week 9.  The 1972 and 1973 Dolphins as well as the 1974 Raiders each clinched their division in Week 10, but each of these of course occurred in a 14-game season.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:17 pm

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

nyg...YES, in that scenario the Giants would win the division ASSUMING PHI doesn't tie them at 9-7 or beat them at 10-6 (either case would have PHI winning division as PHI would have swept DAL and would win on division record).   On the common games, we would actually use NYG at 8-4 and DAL at 7-5 as we include the divisional games in common games records.

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: November 22, 2011 9:43 am

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!


I went through one scenario that I'm pretty sure works that has our NYG winning the division at 9-7 and beating DAL only once, and still losing to NO and GB. 

1) NYG beats NYJ, WAS, and DAL once
2) DAL gets upset by ARI OR MIA (not likely but given the Cowboys' inconsistency and MIA's good play recently I wouldn't rule it out)
3) DAL loses to PHI and NYG once

In this case, it seems to me that division records will be 3-3 for both teams, and then NYG win common games over DAL because NYG would go 6-2 vs DAL 5-3 in this scenario. I know this is a specific scenario and is a bit out there, but I just wanted to see if there was even a semi-plausible way for NYG to win the division w/o sweeping DAL. Am I right about this scenario?

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: November 22, 2011 8:27 am

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!


Thanks for the warm welcome! Yes, I am very much a NYG fan and chose the name accordingly. I look forward to learning more than I ever cared to know about tiebreakers!  

Since: Dec 7, 2010
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:53 am

PLAYOFF SCENARIOS 2011 - Here we go again!

Hi Joe,

good to see that its that time of the year again, and your are staying with us, to enlighten us all.

I am really looking forward to the next weeks of number crunching and finding the most unlikely 4way ties to propel tema past their H2H shortcomings.

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