Blog Entry

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Posted on: January 3, 2012 1:51 am
 

Due to incredible demand (okay...maybe it's just a few vocal individuals)...I'd like to float this blog entry to discuss NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures.

Discussion topics should include:

- Any questions on the Rules and how they are applied in figuring out NFL scenarios prior to the end of the regular season (my job for last 18 seasons)

- Historical Anecdotes on NFL Tiebreaking Rules and past examples of the application of the Rules on Prior seasons

- Potential ways for the NFL to improve the Tiebreaker Rules

- Why can't we all just get along?  (kidding...sort of)

- Anything else that comes up NFL Tiebreaker, Draft order, Scheduling Formula related


Hopefully we'll get our regulars here along with some new voices to chime in...and I will check here as often as possible to answer any questions directed at me.


Let the party begin!!! 

 

Comments

Since: Dec 9, 2008
Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:24 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

-NEVER SHOULD THERE BE A TIE GAME.  Just play overtime until someone wins.

AFC West
Reason: Den, SD, and Oak are all tied based on record against each other and based on division record.  Denver advances based on common games (5-5) over SD (4-6) and Oak (4-6).  Oak and SD are tied on record against each other, based on division record, and games against common opponents.  SD advances based on better conference record than Oak 7-5 to 6-6.

Den 8-8

SD 8-8

Oak 8-8

KC 7-9

AFC North

Reason: Bal beat Pit twice.

Bal 12-4

Pit 12-4

Cin 9-7

Cle 4-12

AFC South

Reason: Overall Record

Hou 10-6

Ten 9-7

Jac 5-11

Ind 2-14

AFC East

Reason: Mia beat Buf twice.

NE 13-3

NYJ 8-8

Mia 6-10

Buf 6-10

 AFC

Reason: I would give division winners a spot, but I would seed the playoffs based on overall record and tiebreakers. Bal over Pit based on head-to-head sweep.  NYJ record against SD is 1-0 and against Oak is 0-1.  Total record is 1-1.  SD record against NYJ is 0-1 and 1-1 against Oak.  Total record is 1-2.  Oak record against SD is 1-1 and 1-0 against NYJ.  Total record 2-1.  Oakland would then advance based on better record in games against tied on overall record opponents.  NYJ would then advance based on winning the game against SD. Mia advances over Buf based on head-to-head sweep.

 NE 13-3

Bal 12-4

Pit 12-4

Hou 10-6

Cin 9-7

Den 8-8

--------

Ten 9-7

Oak 8-8

NYJ 8-8

SD 8-8

KC 7-9

Mia 6-10

Buf 6-10

Jac 5-11

Cle 4-12

Ind 2-14

Matchups: 6 Den @ 3 Pit, 5 Cin @ 4 Hou, 2 Bal and 1 NE Byes.  Division opponents could never meet until the conference championships. Highest seed is home for all games.

NFC West
Reason: Overall Record

SF 13-3

Ari 8-8

Sea 7-9

StL 2-14

NFC North

Reason: Overall Record

GB 15-1

Det 10-6

Chi 8-8

Min 3-13

NFC South

Reason: Overall Record

NO 13-3

Atl 10-6

Car 6-10

TB 4-12

NFC East

Reason: Phi beat Dal twice.

NYG 9-7

Phi  8-8

Dal  8-8

Was 5-11

NFC

Reason: I would give division winners a spot, but I would seed the playoffs based on overall record and tiebreakers. SF over NO based on conference record 10-2 to 9-3. Atl over Det based on head to head 1-0. Chi and Ari advance over Phi and Dal based on conference record 7-5 to 6-6.  Chi beats Ari tied on conference record.  Chi advances based on common opponents over Ari 4-1 over 3-2.  Phi advanced over Dal based on head-to-head sweep.

GB 15-1

SF 13-3

NO 13-3

Atl 10-6

Det 10-6

NYG 9-7

--------

Chi 8-8

Ari 8-8

Phi 8-8

Dal 8-8

Sea 7-9

Car 6-10

Was 5-11

TB 4-12

Min 3-13

StL 2-14

Matchups: 6 NYG @ 3 NO, 5 Det @ 4 Atl, 2 SF and 1 GB Byes.  Division opponents could never meet until the conference championships. Highest seed is home for all games.

Super Bowl

Game would be played just like any other sport.  The team with the better overall record would get the home game.

Draft  (Team/Conferece/SOS)

Ind    AFC    0.125  0.539  (Did not play each other; use SOS.  Ind advances based on

StL    NFC    0.125  0.590   worse SOS)

 

Min    NFC    0.188  0.559

 

Cle     AFC    0.250  0.531  (Did not plat each other; use SOS.  Tied. Cle advances based on

TB     NFC    0.250  0.551   worse SOV)


Was    NFC    0.313  0.477 (Did not play each other; use SOS.  Was advances based on

Jac    AFC    0.313  0.500  worse SOS)

 

Car     NFC    0.375  0.504 (Nobody got swept or swept the other teams; Use SOS.  Car and

Mia    AFC    0.375  0.504 Mia advance.  Car and Mia tied; Use SOV. Car advances based on

Buf    AFC    0.375  0.520 worse SOV)

 

Sea    NFC    0.438  0.512 (Did not play each other; use SOS.  KC advances based on a

KC     AFC    0.438  0.512 worse SOV)

 

Ari     NFC    0.500  0.469 (Nobody got swept or swept the other teams; Use SOS) 

Dal     NFC    0.500  0.473

Phi     NFC    0.500  0.488

NYJ   AFC    0.500  0.500

Oak    AFC    0.500  0.504

SD     AFC    0.500  0.516

Chi     NFC    0.500  0.527

 

Ten    AFC    0.563  0.461

 

Subject to Playoffs

Den    AFC    0.500  0.520

 

Cin     AFC    0.563  0.492 (Did not play each other; use SOS.

NYG   NFC    0.563  0.520

 

Hou    AFC    0.625  0.453 (Nobody got swept or swept the other teams; Use SOS.  Hou 

Det    NFC    0.625  0.535 advances based on worse SOS. Atl and Det Tied; use Head-

Atl     NFC    0.625  0.480 to-head.  Det lost to Atl. 

 

Pit     AFC    0.750  0.492 Bal beat Pit twice; Bal is better; pick after Pit.

Bal     AFC    0.750  0.477

 

NO     NFC    0.813  0.441 (Nobody got swept or swept the other teams; Use SOS.  NO 

SF     NFC    0.813  0.449 advances. SF and NE tied; use SOV.  SF advances based on

NE     AFC    0.813  0.449 worse SOV).

 

GB     NFC    0.938  0.457




Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:12 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

brett and db,

You guys both crack me up.Laughing It's like you're living in the same basement. Which parents' basement I haven't figured out...

So I guees the debating on Jerry's unemployment project is over.


See you guys next year, same time, same procedure.

   
    
 



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:51 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

agn,

If-clauses can be clause-initial (1), clause-medial (2) as well as clause-final (3).

(1) If you like, we can catch a movie.
(2) We, if you like, can catch a movie.
(3) We can catch a movie if you like.

I'm keeping the if-clause as clause-final to maintain the aesthetic consistency with the other steps


-Cheers
-Jerry 



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:39 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


If compatible enough with each other, then perhaps the two documents can be merged into one - keeping only the best of each.
From jerry's responses, that doesn't seem likely.

AGN, I agree with you there.

Brett throw that thing away.  You only gave us 4 pages of 11.  LOL.  That's already longer than the existing procedure at 1200+ words.  Dude we can hardly get the league to change one sentence let alone proof read an entire 11 page document.  OMG.  

At best I might cherry pick some of your wording.  For example I think your wording on Strength of Victory is great.  .... the part about "not counted, nor is it half-counted".

My version is 1 page long, clear, concise and cohesive, with the "Procedural Clarifications" occupying half of a second page.


-Cheers
-Jerry



 



Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:22 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

If for no other reason, I think it just looks prettier this way.
See, your response is formed correctly:


Using your tie-breaker grammer, you would say


"  I think it just looks prettier this way, If for no other reason"
It's clumsy, fix it.

   
 



Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: January 7, 2012 9:17 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

If compatible enough with each other, then perhaps the two documents can be merged into one - keeping only the best of each.
From jerry's responses, that doesn't seem likely.

 



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:22 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

I'm not trying to compete with Jerry. He's doing an admirable job. But I want to share my version. If compatible enough with each other, then perhaps the two documents can be merged into one - keeping only the best of each.

Currently my document is 11 pages long, but that includes a title page, a table of contents, a list of the logical inferences and weak assumptions made, a complete list of all the updates made to the language with explanations, two proposed alternate versions to the multi-team strength of schedule tiebreaker (for the draft order), and a full page covering compensatory draft picks.

Here are the first 4 pages (excluding the table of contents): The first page is a cover page. On it is a list of 5 goals which I attempt to achieve with my version of the language.


(Note: some of the formatting was lost here - the diffrent colored fonts, line indentations, and line centering were all lost, and the spacing between lines became inconsistent)
 

[begin Title Page]

NFL Tiebreaking Procedure

 

Goals

 

1)  Accuracy:  100% accurate.

2)  Clarity:  easily understood by fans and media; no room for misinterpretation.

3)  Conciseness:  no repetitive or superfluous language.

4)  Organization:  ideal placement of each section and each item within each section.

5)  Independence:  each section can be understood independently of the other sections.

 

Color Key

 

Black font:  Known facts.

Green font:  Strong assumptions verified by Joe Ferreira,  by researched articles, or by tiebreak precedence.

Red font:  Weak assumptions lacking verification and/or precedence.

Blue font:  Alternate wording for previous paragraph or list.

 

 

Written, Organized, and Edited by Brett

Preliminary Ideas and Suggestions from Agn, Jerry, Jeff, Dave, and Juleswallet

 

 

January,  2012

 

[begin page 2]

Winning percentages are used for all records (including overall W-L-T records);  a tie counts as a half win and a half loss.

At a given tiebreaking step,

a)  If a winner cannot be determined, all teams not tied for the best record are eliminated.

b)  If one or more teams are eliminated, the procedure reverts to Head-to-Head record.

c)  If no teams are eliminated, the procedure advances to the next step.

[alternate wording that could replace the above list]

Note for multi-team ties:  If, at any step, one or more teams are eliminated but others remain tied, the procedure reverts to Head-to-Head record.


Divisional Tiebreaking Steps


1)  Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: combined head-to-head record.
2)  Division record.
3)  Common Games record.
4)  Conference record.
5)  Strength of Victory record.
6)  Strength of Schedule record.
7)  Conference Ranking in points scored + Conference Ranking in points allowed.

8)  Overall Ranking in points scored + Overall Ranking in points allowed.

9)  Net Points in common games.

10)  Net Points in all games.

11)  Net Touchdowns in all games.

12)  Random Selection.

 

 

Interdivisional Tiebreaking Steps (steps used to break ties between teams in different divisions)

 

-  Amongst a group of teams tied for a wildcard spot, select only the highest ranking team (but non-division winner) from each division. Only then, proceed to step (1).

 

-  Amongst a group of teams tied for a spot in the draft order, select only the highest?? ranking team from each division. Only then, proceed to step (1).

 

1)  Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: head-to-head sweep or combined head-to-head record*??.
2)  Conference record.
3)  Common Games record, minimum of 4 games.
4)  Strength of Victory record.
5)  Strength of Schedule record.
6)  Conference Ranking in points scored + Conference Ranking in points allowed.

7)  Overall Ranking in points scored + Overall Ranking in points allowed.

8)  Net Points in conference games.

9)  Net Points in all games.

10)  Net Touchdowns in all games.

11)  Random Selection.

*Combined head-to-head record is applicable only if each team has played each of the others.

[begin page 3]

Special Tiebreaking Cases

 

1)  Multi-Team Divisional Ties:

Only one team is ranked within its division per application of the procedure; after the highest ranking team is determined from a group of tied teams, the procedure is applied a second time with the remaining unranked teams to determine the next highest ranking team (and so forth until all tied teams are ranked within their division).

 

2)  Three or More Teams Tied for Two Wildcard Spots:

Only one wildcard team is determined per application of the procedure; after the first wildcard team is determined, the procedure is applied a second time with the highest ranking (non-division winning) team from each division, but excluding the first wildcard winner.

 

Tiebreaking Terms


Head-to-Head Sweep
a)  A team "sweeps" (and is the winner) if it has a head-to-head win against each of the other tied teams.
b)  A team is "swept" (and is eliminated) if it has a head-to-head loss against each of the other tied teams.

c)  A pair of teams is swept (and each team in the pair is eliminated) if each has a head-to-head loss against each of the other tied teams outside of the pair.??


Common Game
a)  A common game is one that is played against a common opponent.
b)  If a team has played two games against the same common opponent, each game counts.
c)  In multi-team ties, for an opponent to be considered “common”, it must be common amongst all tied teams.
d)  A head-to-head game is not considered a “common game”.


Strength of Victory
a)  A team's Strength of Victory is the combined record of the opponents it has defeated.
b)  If a team has defeated the same opponent twice, this opponent's record is counted twice.
c)  If a team has tied an opponent, this opponent's record is not counted, nor is it “half-counted”. [C]

Strength of Schedule
a)  A team's Strength of Schedule is the combined record of all the opponents it has played.

b)  If a team has played the same opponent twice, this opponent's record is counted twice.

 

Points Scored and Points Allowed Rankings

a)  Conference Rankings are determined from all played regular season games (in and out of conference).

b)  Overall Rankings are determined from all played regular season games (in and out of conference).

c)  If a tie in ranking, rankings are awarded as follows: [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 6th] or [1st, 1st, 1st, 4rd, 5th].

 

Net Points and Net touchdowns

a)  Net Points  =  Points Scored – Points Allowed.

b)  Net Touchdowns  =  Touchdowns Scored – Touchdowns Allowed.

 

Random Selection

a)  If two teams are tied, a single coin flip will determine the winner.

b)  If more than two teams are tied, a method agreed upon by the NFL and all tied teams will determine the winner; the agreed upon method must give each team equal probability of being selected. [D]

[begin page 4]

Tiebreaker Applications

(The Tiebreaking Procedure is limited to the following.)

 

[The following is in outline form, with each sublist indented a bit further in.]

A)  Divisional Tiebreakers

      
;     

(1)  Playoff Teams:

(a)  Determine a division winner.

(b)  Select a wildcard winner, if tied teams are from the same division.

(c)  Reduce a set of teams tied for a wildcard spot to one per division.

 

(2)  Playoff Seeding:

Determine seeding among tied wildcard teams from the same division. UNLESS, if tiebreakers were already applied to select tied wildcard teams over other tied teams (Special Tiebreaking Case #1), the tied wildcard teams are seeded in the order they were selected.

 

(3)  Draft Order:

Break Strength of Schedule ties when determining the first round draft order (and round-to-round rotation) among teams from the same division (or reduce a set of tied teams to one per division).

 

(4)  Schedule Configuration:

Rank all tied teams within their division so that the 2011-2012 schedule can be configured based on these rankings.

 

B)  Interdivisional Tiebreakers (tiebreakers used to break ties between teams in different divisions)

 

(1)  Playoff Teams:

Select a wildcard winner among at most one team per division. If needed, the Divisional Tiebreakers would reduce a set of tied teams to one per division before the Interdivisional Tiebreakers are used.

 

(2)  Playoff Seeding:

(a)  Determine seeding among tied division winners.

(b)  Determine seeding among tied wildcard teams from different divisions. UNLESS, if tiebreakers were already applied to select tied wildcard teams over other tied teams (Special Tiebreaking Case #2), the tied wildcard teams are seeded in the order they were selected.

 

(3)  Draft Order:

Break Strength of Schedule ties when determining the draft order among teams from the same conference and at most one per division. If needed, the Divisional Tiebreakers would reduce a set of tied teams to one per division.





Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:43 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

When we are down to the one in a googol level or so, we have a serious issue with the coin flip as there is a distinct (by distinct i mean > 1 in a googol) possibility that the coin will land on its side in a coin flip. Using Jerry's "unique result wins" approach, would the team whose coin landed on edge drop out of the tiebreak and have it return to step 1? This is a very important issue. 

As for the alternate procedures, I seem to remember someone suggesting a "race to midfield" type tiebreaker in a hilarious post last year; I still think that is the best option.



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:20 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Joe,

I here your point about the "division losers" terminology.  As much as I hate to alter wording to avoid ego bruising, I've gone ahead and changed all instances of "division loser" to "non-division-champion".

Joe, regarding:

A. If breaking ties to determine division ranking, include only clubs within that division.
B. If breaking ties to determine the seeding of the division leaders, exclude all non-division-champions.
C. If breaking ties to determine wild-card participants, eliminate all but the highest ranked non-division-champion in each division by referring to the previously determined division rankings.

This language reminds the reader what the three different uses are of the numbered steps.  The langauge is also explicit guidance regarding what the starting collection of teams shall be for each application of the procedure

I think there is merit to your point about the obviousness of A and B.  But isn't always as obvious to ALL newcombers to the procedure?  When I first began learning the tie-breaking process just a few years ago, it was not explicitly clear to me which teams to include or exclude.  Granted this was compounded by additionaly confusions elsewhere in the language.  Those 29 words guarantee that readers know what the starting collection of teams is to be.


-Cheers
-Jerry 





Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 5:20 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Jerry....

I have some comments...and i'll walk thru your attempt step by step at some point very soon when I come up for air...but I actually think you can make what you have shorter and still stand up.

I think A and B are both not necessary.    
A. If breaking ties to determine division ranking, include only clubs within that division.
B. If breaking ties to determine the seeding of the division leaders, exclude all division losers.
Both seem obvious to me.   It almost seems like we should add:
C: If breaking ties to determine NFL playoff teams, include only NFL clubs (e.g. no MLB or NBA teams)

;-)   Okay...I exaggerate...but hopefully you get my point.

If changes are indeed needed, brevity and clarity would be the ultimate goals IMHO. 

also...you may want to avoid using the term "loser".  i know it's quicker than "non-division winners", but I can tell you from experience that NFL clubs will not approve wording calling teams "losers". 

More to come....and I think i'll likely take a stab at condensed language at some point and throw at you guys to see what you think.

Thx...Joe    &n
bsp;



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com