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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: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: February 3, 2012 9:22 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Brett,
Now, as you can see, we have a 1st round draft order that is nota mirror immage of the standings, yet is considered to be a valid method. 
I disagree.  The final league standings are not the division standings as this would make no sense for the 28 teams outside of a division.  The Final league standings are by definition decided by the following list

    1-2.  Super Bowl winner and Super Bowl loser
    3-4.  Conference Championship game losers ranked from best to worst record
    5-8.  Divisional Playoff game losers ranked from best to worst record
  9-12.  Wild Card Playoff game losers ranked from best to worst record
13-32.  Non-Playoff participants ranked from best to worst record

If Final League standings ties exist they are broken by the following tiebreaking process.
  1. Strength-of-Schedule.
  2. Best previously determined Division Ranking if all teams from same division.
  3. Best previously determined Conference Ranking if all teams from same conference.
  4. Coin toss.
Once all ties that exist are broken, only then can we know the standings and therefore only then can we know the "reverse standings"

As I've mentioned before we should not be using the coin flip to determine the reverse standings, we should using the standings to determine the reverse standings.  


In other words, the highest ranking of the 3 teams was not determined first. 
I agree with you that this is how they did it then.  This is because the League is probably unaware of these inconsistencies in their process.  It's doubtful that anyone ever at the league has examined and analyzed tiebreaking as exhaustively as those of us in this forum.  Let's keep it real.  I mean we are debating how a coin flip should work.  But that's is our nature.  

For a brief while, I felt the same way you do. But, then I decided that "coin flipping" has its own inherent rules. The winner of a coin flip always gets his choice or gets the better of the two outcomes.

Allow me to help real you in from the dark side.  The first part of what you said is irrelevant in tiebreaking because NFL tiebreaking is an objective process.  There is nothing subjective about it.  Never has been and likely never will be.  Therefore we can just rule out the part about a team having choice with regards to coin flips as it relates to tie-breaking.  I do agree with the second piece though in that the winner of the coin flip does get the better of the two outcomes.  This depends largely on how you define the better outcome.  In my opinion the better outcome is the team who results with the better season ending seeding, not the team that gets higher draft pick.  Here are two examples.  When a team starts their season, the outcome they desire is to finish at the top of the league standings and pick 32nd in the draft.  No team aims to finish last when starting thier season so that they may pick first.  Example2.  Suppose for some unforseen reason the Superbowl could not be completed (like one of those soccer riots).  If the league decided that the only fair means to award a single winner of the Superbowl was to use a coin flip then those teams are certainly going to view the better outcome as the team awarded the 32 pick in the draft not the 31st pick in the draft.

When there is consistency in how we apply the coin flip for producing standings we can create a beatifully cohesive procedure that is consistent across all categories of standings.  For example, check out my link below.


-Cheers
-Jerry


 



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: February 3, 2012 8:22 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Brett,

A sweep qualifies where one or more clubs has each defeated or each lost to each of the remaining clubs. =
A sweep qualifies where one or more clubs has each defeated each of the remaining clubs. 

I understand both points regarding use of the word "remaining" and "other".  I think use of the word "remaining" is fine here because it is not being used in the context of the word "eliminated" within the same sentence.  If the word "eliminated" was used in the same sentence then I could see definite confusion over what the appropriate application of "remaining" is.  For those whom still might be confused over what is meant by remaining they can simply refer to the H2H sweep examples in the Tie-breaking clarifications section.

You pointed out a fact that I realized a while ago, in that the H2H sweep definition is self-correcting.  If the reader does not eliminate the most teams that could be eliminated in the first pass, the other teams will be eliminated the next time H2H sweep is reapplied.  It's just so beautiful.

-Cheers
-Jerry

 



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:06 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

re: coin flipping

For a brief while, I felt the same way you do. But, then I decided that "coin flipping" has its own inherent rules. The winner of a coin flip always gets his choice or gets the better of the two outcomes. To decide a playoff team, the winner of the flip should get the playoff berth. To decide a top draft pick (or more desirable draft pick), the winner of the flip should get that pick.

We don't need to worry about the inconsistency between flipping for a playoff birth and flipping for a draft position. The draft order tiebreaking procedure is already distinctly different in that it begins with strength of schedule. Not to mention, I could argue that it would be more "consistent" if both procedures (playoff tiebreaking and draft order tiebreaking) began by first identifying the most desirable position. then the next most desirable position, and so on.

Back to coin flipping: rather than have the potential for multiple flips, I think one coin flip, AFC vs. NFC, would suffice. Then all the 1st round draft positions among the tied group would be determined by conference rankings. All AFC teams (among the tied group) draft ahead of all NFC teams (among the tied group), or vice versa. That, or institute my "inter-conference" tiebreaking procedure posted awhile back.

Having an '"inter-conference" tiebreaking procedure would make it possible to have the first round draft order be a mirror image of the league rankings. Even still - I could see an argument for stopping the ranking once all playoff teams have been determined, then begin the ranking again starting with the lowest ranking team (ie. highest draft position).

Not sure what my preference is on all this. I just wish that something goes into writing that will take away all the uncertainty. I also kind of hope that all the alternatives are understood and discussed by those making the decisions.



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2012 12:00 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion



My hope is that the intention is to refer to the previously determined division rankings.   We don't re-seed divisional teams when determining wild card participants nor do we re-seed when determining home-field priority in subsequent rounds of the playoffs, therefore it would seem odd to re-seed for awarding draft order.

Any thoughts or should I be asking this to elias?

My guess is that the original rankings would be retained. Like you said, why use the divisional tiebreakers if they've already been used!
On the other hand, suppose teams A and B are not tied in strength of schedule. Suppose instead that A has the weaker strength of schedule. Then you have A being ranked higher in its division and also receiving a better first round draft pick. Now, as you can see, we have a 1st round draft order that is not a mirror immage of the standings, yet is considered to be a valid method. Also, if you study the 2007-2008 Atl-Oak-KC tie, you can see that the first coin flip (which turned out to be the only coin flip) determined the lowest ranking (ie. highest draft position). In other words, the highest ranking of the 3 teams was not determined first.










Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:44 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Ignore that last line - I must have pasted that in there an extra time and not noticed it.



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: February 2, 2012 11:41 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


 A sweep qualifies where one or more clubs has each defeated or each lost to each of the remaining clubs.
If I remember correctly, I didn't like the word "remaining" in this definition due to "remaining" being use in other instances with slightly different meaning (eg. "remaining" clubs revert to step 1).

I therefore would suggest (and probably did at that time)...
 A sweep qualifies where one or more clubs has each defeated or each lost to each of the other clubs.
The problem then is that agn (and possibly others) may have argued that "other" could imply "all other" teams in the tied group, including potentially a team that is part of the "sweeping group". That is when I believe "group" was added to the definition. I'm not against the word "group"; I just think it created distasteful grammar. I still think "group" can be used as long as it's worded better grammatically. Actually, now I think the word "subgroup" is the most appropriate word since "group" is used sometimes to refer to the entire set of tied teams.

I think your paragraph describing the 3 sweep cases is perfect and would fit well above the paragraph on total points rankings.

You can revert to step (1) even if step (1) inheritantly will not apply following a sweep. Unless...are you already at step (1)? Then I would say "re-apply step (1) with the remaining teams". or continue on to step (2). Actually...why make a reference to what to do next?

By the way, I think the following is an example when step (1) couldbe re-applied following a sweep:
A beat D, B beat D, C beat D, A beat C, B beat C.

A, B,C sweep D. Then A,B sweep C. I say "could" because this could also be "scored" as "A,B sweep C,D" in a single application of step (1).


What about this case?
B beat D, C beat D, A beat C, A beat B.

A is 2-0, B is 1-1, C is 1-1, D is 0-2. I still think D should be eliminated in this scenario.

 A sweep qualifies where one or more clubs has each defeated or each lost to each of the remaining clubs.



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:13 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Coin flips for breaking ties when deciding draft order or waiver claim order.

It's my very strong belief that the loser of the coin fip should have draft pick priority.  The rule clearly states that selection order is assigned in reverse standings order.  Just like in mathematics there is an order of operations, tie-breaking should be no different.  When we break ties to determine the standings for a division or for a wild card spot, the coin flip will always determines the higher seeded team.   The reverse order of the league standings should determine the draft order, NOT the other way around.  Therefore we should not be discriminantly applying the coin flip for breaking ties for the draft in a way different than other standings.  And while the probabilities are the same regardless of which symantic method is chosen the real problem is the inconsistenicies in the languange when trying to tie together a cohesive procedure.

Once the standings are known, only then can the reverse standings be known.  Sometimes you can't know the standings until the coinflip is used, like for example the division standings.  It should be no different than the league standings.   The coin therefore should always be used in determining the standard order of the standings from best to worst.  We should not use the coin flip to determine the reverse standings order, we should be using the standings to determine the reverse standing order!

Bottom line is this:
If the coin flip is ever needed for any tie-breaking process, we should always be consistent and deem the coin flip winner as the better team among the group of teams at the coin flip.   Therefore by definition the coin fip loser would get draft pick priority, or in the case of waivers, waiver claim priority.


-Cheers
-Jerry 



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: February 1, 2012 6:55 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

The other option is to just leave the seeding and tiebreaking process for the selection committee as seperate document.  Overall it might more work than it is worth to try and combine things up.  Particularily with naunces in the draft order for tied teams rotating each round.

Still contemplating if I like the new version or not. hmmm....

-Cheers
-Jerry 



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: February 1, 2012 6:20 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Alright folks, NOTE: this is a draft version subject to improvements

 

The link above is my first attempt to bridge the draft order tie-breaking steps into one cohesive procedure.
There are two concpets at play whether we are breaking ties for wild cards or divisons or for the draft.

  1. The first concept is how the teams are to be seeded which is outlined upfront and rightly so since we can't break ties until we know how teams are to be seeded.  It's important to outline differences in the seeding process depending what we are seeding for.
  2. The second concept is any how ties are to be broken.  The change is the addition of a new "League Tiebreakers" section.  And because the seeding instructions are now all grouped together, Seeding and Tie-breaking can now survive as seperate documents.

-Cheers
-Jerry 



Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:48 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Brett, Regarding the draft order stuff, I think you might be digging too deep into the intrepretation of the process.
1.  Clubs not participating in the playoffs shall select in the first through 20th positions in reverse standings order.
This sentence does not explicitly stipulate whether the standings are to be computed in reverse order and then assigned in that order or if we are to compute them in standard order first and then assign the positions in reverse order.  My guess is that the intention is that you first compute the standings in the standard order from best to worst and then assign the positions in reverse order of this list.  We have a well defined process for determining the order of teams from best to worst.  So, I would argue that any method that attempts to order the teams from worst to best must be the absolute mirror image otherwise said reverse order method is an invalid method.  

The other way to think about this is the use of the word "standings" means one and only one thing.  To rank from best to worst.  Therefore the "reverse standings" by definition must be the mirror image of the "standings'.

For me, the most confusing wording in the selection committee steps is the bold text below:
If any ties cannot be broken by strength-of-schedule, the divisional or conference tie-breakers, if applicable, shall be applied. Any ties that still exist shall be broken by a coin flip

Does this imply that we could run into wacky scenarios like such:

Division Ranking:
Team A = 1st with a record of 10-6
Team B = 2nd with a record of 10-6
Team C = 3rd with a record of 10-6
Team D = 4th with a record of 9-7

Suppose Team A is the 4 seed
Suppose Team B is the 6 seed

Now suppose Team A loses its wild card game
Also suppose Team B loses its wild card game

Assume that the other two wild card game losers from the other conference have a better record
Also assume that Team A and Team B are tied at Strength of Schedule

So now what????
The procedure says the divisional tie-breakers, if applicable, shall be applied.  I assume the applicability hinges on whether the collection of teams A and B are from the same division, which they are.  So..... are we to reapply the divisional tie-breakers as the langauges suggests or is the intention to refer to the previously determined division rankings.  There is a clear distinction between the two approaches.

If we are to refer to the previously determined division rankings then the answer is simple.  Team A is the better team based on the previous rankings which involved the 3 tied teams A, B, and C.

However if we are actually supposed to re-apply the divisional tiebreakers among Teams A and B then it's possible that Team B might be determined to be better than Team A since we are beginning the divisional tiebreaking process excluding Team C.  We know that Team A is best among teams A, B, and C but Team B might be best among Teams A and B.

My hope is that the intention is to refer to the previously determined division rankings.   We don't re-seed divisional teams when determining wild card participants nor do we re-seed when determining home-field priority in subsequent rounds of the playoffs, therefore it would seem odd to re-seed for awarding draft order.

Any thoughts or should I be asking this to elias?


-Cheers
-Jerry





 


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