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 29, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2012 8:59 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Perhaps we could simply re-name "conference record" as "common conference games" as these names would be inherently synonymous as long as this step continues to follow the "common games" step.

True, NFL could go with either wording.  So why change it?  Using "conference record" gives the impression that conference games are important, and parallels a step in the wild card tiebreak procedure.

I would not advocate putting common conf games ahead of all common games.  Why look at the pool of 4 games before looking at a pool of 8 games?  True, we look at division record before both of these (pool of 6 games), but this is a divisional tiebreak so clearly there is (and should be) importance given to divisional results.  If you want to argue that conference games should also carry additional weight, then I would think conference record (pool of 6 - disregarding divisional games) would be used before/instead of common conf game record.  So I don't see a good argument for common conf games as the tiebreaker following division record.

I have no hangup that half the common games are intraconference and the other half is interconference.  Apparently I am in the minority.  I would probably feel different if this was a different sport (NBA, NHL) where the schedule allows matchups against every other team.  But given the fact that it is not feasible for the NFL to allow all conference teams to play each other, common games seem a better measure than conference games, IMO.



Since: Dec 9, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:44 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

I could go for common conference games.



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:05 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Vito, good analysis. Perhaps we could simply re-name "conference record" as "common conference games" as these names would be inherently synonymous as long as this step continues to follow the "common games" step. 

I think the reason people want "common conference games" is so that this step may come before the regular "common games" step. Then, as has been pointed out before, this would eliminate the need for both "common games" and "conference record" as a tie in one would guarantee a tie in the other (should the prior step, "common conference games", be tied).

I suppose I would vote for:
Head-to-Head Record
Division Record
"Common Conference Games" Record
"All Common Games" Record
to replace:
Head-to-Head Record
Division Record
"Common Games" Record
Conference Record







Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:44 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

In previous weeks, I believe there had been some grumblings about using "common conference games" as a tiebreaking step when breaking ties between teams in the same division.  At issue was the fact that, in a divisional tie, common games includes non-conference games and that did not sit well with some folks.  I personally prefer the use of common games, as then any of the 16 games on a team's schedule could be a factor in the tiebreaking process.

I have further analyzed the tiebreaking steps, and have determined there is no need to add "common conference games" to the divisional tiebreak procedure.  The reason is that it is inherently the deciding factor when looking at conference record.

Common games is step 3 of the procedure.  To get to this step, teams must a) have the same overall record, b) have the same h2h record, and c) have the same division record.  Since a) and c) are true, it must also be true that the teams have the same record in their remaining 10 games (4 common conference games, 2 non-common conf games, and 4 common non-conf games).  If teams tie in their common games record, then logic dictates that they must have the same record in their 2 non-common conf games.  Step 4 is conference record, which compares a pool of 12 games.  However, we have already shown a team's record in 8 of these games (division games and non-common conf games) is equal, so the winner of conference record will be the team with the best record in the 4 "common conference" games.



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:05 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion



Ok, but seriously, it's soooo long and you didn't even paste the whole thing in here.  If you want people, particularily the competition committee to take a serious look it at, then the their first impression shouldn't be how excessively long it is.  

Brevity, Brevity, Brevity.
The first page has very little text other than the tiebreaking steps themselves. I'm hoping the first impression is based upon the first page. I agree that "brevity" is important, but not if brevity weakens a clarification or instruction, or if brevity means addressing fewer questions.

Also no need to make major changes to the wording on Best Ranking steps, that's already explained in the procedural notes, and it ought to stay that way since there are some nuances to those steps.  We should keep the steps as familiar as feasible except where change is absolutely needed.  We might be ok with change, but in general people don't like major overhauls.
I agree that major overhauls may not be favorable to some people, but sometimes they are necessary. As for the "Best Ranking steps", the wording I use is just personal preference. I consider this a slight change in wording, not an overhaul of any magnitude (major or minor). I also do not see this slight change in wording affecting the magnitude of the overall overhaul. ["overall overhaul" ha!]

Random Selection is too open ended.  Stick to the coin flip.  A concept that even 2nd graders will understand.
I like "Random Selection" since coins may not be used if 3 or more teams are involved at this step. I also think "Random Selection" is easier to explain and understand than "Group Sweep". Should we poll a few 2nd graders?
Of course, if the Competition Committee decides what method would be used (if 3 teams ever reached this step), then I would replace "random selection" with the method they choose.

Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: combined head-to-head record. - You can just say best combined head-to-head record among tied clubs, this definition works even for the trivial case of there being only two tied clubs.
Personal preference here. I like separating the two-club case from the three/four-club case. Your wording sounds ridiculous if it is only 2 clubs at this step, even though I agree with you that the wording still works.

Your section about Tie-breaking special cases aren't special cases at all.  They are common uses of the procedure and necessary for the reader to understand proper application of those cases.  This information must be moved before the steps of the procedure, unless our goal is to maintain confused readers.  If you want people to be confused or have to hunt for proper application of the procedure then leave them where you have them.  This is why this information is provided nice and cohesively prior to the steps in my procedure.  I've got 6 lines of instructional info prior to the steps.  This is appropriately placed and not too much for the reader to stomach. 
Because of this comment, I removed the header "Special Tiebreaking Cases". However, I leave the cases beneath the tiebreaking steps since I still believe that understanding these cases is not paramount to understanding how to apply the basic steps. Also, I'm confident that, due to the headers used for each of these cases, they will not be overlooked.

... the format of my procedure update is more familiar with the current format and therefore more likely to be accepted by competition members, IMHO.
It is my guess that most members of the Competition Committee find the current document cumbersome and somewhat confusing, and would therefore like either one of our documents by comparison.





Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:48 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion



Ok, but seriously, it's soooo long and you didn't even paste the whole thing in here.  If you want people, particularily the competition committee to take a serious look it at, then the their first impression shouldn't be how excessively long it is.  

Brevity, Brevity, Brevity.
The first page has very little text other than the tiebreaking steps themselves. I'm hoping the first impression is based upon the first page. I agree that "brevity" is important, but not if brevity weakens a clarification or instruction, or if brevity means addressing fewer questions.

Also no need to make major changes to the wording on Best Ranking steps, that's already explained in the procedural notes, and it ought to stay that way since there are some nuances to those steps.  We should keep the steps as familiar as feasible except where change is absolutely needed.  We might be ok with change, but in general people don't like major overhauls.
I agree that major overhauls may not be favorable to some people, but sometimes they are necessary. As for the "Best Ranking steps", the wording I use is just personal preference. I consider this a slight change in wording, not an overhaul of any magnitude (major or minor). I also do not see this slight change in wording affecting the magnitude of the overall overhaul. ["overall overhaul" ha!]

Random Selection is too open ended.  Stick to the coin flip.  A concept that even 2nd graders will understand.
I like "Random Selection" since coins may not be used if 3 or more teams are involved at this step. I also think "Random Selection" is easier to explain and understand than "Group Sweep". Should we poll a few 2nd graders?
Of course, if the Competition Committee decides what method would be used (if 3 teams ever reached this step), then I would replace "random selection" with the method they choose.

Head-to-Head record. For multi-team ties: combined head-to-head record. - You can just say best combined head-to-head record among tied clubs, this definition works even for the trivial case of there being only two tied clubs.
Personal preference here. I like separating the two-club case from the three/four-club case. Your wording sounds ridiculous if it is only 2 clubs at this step, even though I agree with you that the wording still works.

Your section about Tie-breaking special cases aren't special cases at all.  They are common uses of the procedure and necessary for the reader to understand proper application of those cases.  This information must be moved before the steps of the procedure, unless our goal is to maintain confused readers.  If you want people to be confused or have to hunt for proper application of the procedure then leave them where you have them.  This is why this information is provided nice and cohesively prior to the steps in my procedure.  I've got 6 lines of instructional info prior to the steps.  This is appropriately placed and not too much for the reader to stomach. 
Because of this comment, I removed the header "Special Tiebreaking Cases". However, I leave the cases beneath the tiebreaking steps since I still believe that understanding these cases is not paramount to understanding how to apply the basic steps. Also, I'm confident that, due to the headers used for each of these cases, they will not be overlooked.

... the format of my procedure update is more familiar with the current format and therefore more likely to be accepted by competition members, IMHO.
It is my guess that most members of the Competition Committee find the current document cumbersome and somewhat confusing, and would therefore like either one of our documents by comparison.





Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:53 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


Here (below) is a google doc version of my language. Unlike Jerry's version, mine does not attempt to add anything new to the existing rules.

The entire document may be long, but that's because it attempts to answer every question that's ever been asked about the procedure. It's organized well so that you can easily find and read only those parts that interest you.

It attempts to be both fan friendly and official. Although, I think nygsb42's idea of having both a fan friendly version and an official version is a great idea.

Here it is, in all its glory.


I'll respond to some of Jerry's suggestions and criticisms in my next post.



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:20 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Jerry,

Upon reading your unconsolidated versions 1 and 2, they both look pretty good. Would you mind pointing out the differences?

Of the differences I noticed: Personally, I prefer the headers in version 1. Organization-wise, I prefer item "B" (in version 1) immediately below the header "Breaking Ties Among Conference Clubs". I believe this is where it is placed in version 2 and also in the current published document.

Language suggestions:

(1)
Therefore, a club within the tied group can never be a common opponent to the tied group, because a club cannot play itself.
I would eliminate the word "therefore". I just don't like it there. I also would shy away from giving explanations.
How about:
Head-to-head games are not considered common games.
OR, if you prefer:
Since a club cannot play itself, it cannot be both "in a tied group" and "a common opponent of the tied group". (This precludes head-to-head games from being considered common games.)
(2)
12. Coin toss
I would prefer:
12. Coin toss, or a collection of coin tosses for a multi-club tie.

(3)
1. Head-to-head sweep (apply if a group of one or more clubs has each defeated each of the remaining group of clubs)
I cannot get past "group of one".  Worse than that, grammatically, is "each of the remaining group of clubs".
How about:
1. Head-to-head sweep. A team is swept if it has lost to each of the other teams. A subgroup of teams is swept if each team within the subgroup has lost to each team outside of the subgroup.
Whichever language you choose, in the spirit of eliminating teams not tied for the best record, I would prefer referenc to the "is swept" cases over reference to the "sweeps/sweep" cases.
(4) Puncutation:
If you use the word "apply" instead of "applicable", then I believe you need to capitalize "Apply" and add a period before the closing paraenthesis. Also it looks like step (12) and sometimes steps (1) and (2) are missing a period at the end.

(5)
first through 20th
looks better as:
1st through 20th

(6)
Tie-Breaking Procedure for Selection Meeting
Only the latter part of item 5 deals with breaking ties.
How about re-naming this header:
Draft Order for Selection Meeting

(7)
When a single club emerges winner of a tie-breaking step, that club is declared winner of this application of the tie-breaking process.  If necessary, repeat this process with all eliminated clubs from the previous application of the procedure until all ties are broken.
There are a few things I don't like about this wording.
1) The last 5 words are unnecesary, since all ties do not need to be broken if "Breaking Ties for Post-Season Play".
2) "a single club emerges winner of a tie-breaking step" sounds awkward to me.

I would prefer the following: (underlined words are underlined to emphasize a difference between wordings; I'm not recommending that any words in the actual document be underlined).
Only one playoff team can be determined per application of the procedure. To determine an additional playoff team from the same group of tied teams, re-apply the procedure with all teams from the group, except for the previous winner.









Since: Dec 9, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2012 12:44 pm
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Go anyone other than the Giants and the Patriots.



Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 16, 2012 12:25 am
 

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

In general, I think Jerry's version is a bit more concise and smooth, but that's just me. I do however like Brett's a, b, c breakdown of how to advance or eliminate teams. That is so widely misunderstood that clarifying is good, even with a few added words. Also, I would argue that we should not really be concerned with the efficiency of the format for people who are good with the tiebreakers; they don't have to read it. But for beginners, it is important to clear up the common misconception. The other option would be to make the official document as brief as possible, and NFL.com add like a "tiebreakers 101" page. That would probably work pretty well too.


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