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!!! 



Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:21 pm

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


I guess it cannot hurt to make preliminary appointments at this time. I would basically state the issues/problems we have with the current language, and point out how your langauge fixes them. However, to show that our shared goals of "conciseness", "completeness", and "simplicity (easy for anyone to follow and understand)" have been met, we would need to test our language with several unbiased fans, some with a great knowledge of how the tiebreaking steps are applied, and some with little to no knowledge of the procedure.

Additionally, I would consider approaching Elias. If we can get Elias on the same page as us, then I feel like Elias will have no problem getting through to the Competition Committee.


Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:13 pm

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


Very good explanation and example. I completely understand now.

On the issue of the draft order,  I disagree about "elimination from Wild Card contention" being the deciding factor.

Suppose Minnesota is eliminated from winning the division in week 12 and from Wild Card contention in week 15. Now suppose Kansas City is eliminated from Wild Card Contention in week 14, but eliminated from winning the division in the final week, week 17.

If being eliminated from Wild Card contention is the only determining factor, then Kansas City would be able to draft ahead of Minnesota (wk 14 vs. wk 15), despite very nearly making the playoffs. Minnesota, in my mind, needs more help from the draft (than Kansas City) in order to compete for a playoff spot the following season. So, in this instance, I believe Minnesota should have the higher draft pick. And thus I believe it best for the criterion to be "eliminated from playoff contention".

Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:06 pm

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


It's been exactly one week and already participation at this blog is waning.  This is precisely why I opt to discuss these topics during the tiebreaking season.  We have the greatest attention from the tiebreaking audience during those weeks.  

I've been on the phone today trying to set up appointments with members of the competition committee.  I haven't got anything yet but I am hopeful to have a couple things set up by the end of the week.  Do you have any direct connections with any current members of the committee?


Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 9:25 pm

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Unless you want to tell me that God sets the playoff seeding, I would say that this was just a coincidence. If tebow wins the super bowl, maybe I'll reevaluate. But I still don't think objectivity takes care of certain situations as well as "pick your poison" opponent choosing method.

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

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

So much for New England choosing the Texans as their opponents for next week. Perhaps objectivity is best afterall???

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 9:21 am

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

As for reasons the nfl would like or dislike it, the would probably like it because the 3 seed has added emphasis, and the 1 seed does have the easiest path. They would dislike it because the 5 and 6 seeds are basically the same, and because the schedule wouldn't be as clear cut. However, I think that might be better, because it would add suspense, like after the Pittsburgh game today, "ooh I wonder who will get summoned to foxborough..." Anyway, sorry about the formatting or lack thereof; this is from an iPhone.

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: January 8, 2012 9:13 am

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Brett, my fault for extremely poor wording. What I meant is that, in my idea, the 3 seed loses power over the 4 seed come the second round, as both could be chosen by the 1 seed, but the 1 seed gets the most power, as it should be. As for an example, let's go hypothetical. Let's say Baltimore 11-4 and Houston 11-4 play each other with the three or four seed to be decided. However, Cincy and Pittsburgh have wrapped up 5 and 6 seed with 11-5 records each (lets say Cincy had easier schedule). Assume the skill of each team is what it actually is this year. Whichever team wins the 3 seed gets Pittsburgh while the loser gets Cincy. If Pittsburgh wins over baltimore and houston ovr cincy, the 1 seed gets Pittsburgh while the 2 seed gets Houston. Under my system, the 3 seed can choose Cincy, so winning 3 instead of 4 really matters. Then, the 1 seed can choose Houston, and truly get the easiest path. In my system, I leave home field to the original higher seed still, as a division winnig perk. On the draft order topic, I have thought about setting it by week and now I think it should be set by the week you are eliminated from WILD CARD contention, not necessarily playoffs altogether, because then you can't be penalized for being in a bad division (eg this years KC). Then the tiebreak would be record at time of elimination.

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:56 am

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion


I like all of your suggestions. For draft order ties, I especially like using head-to-head results ahead of Strength of Schedule.

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:42 am

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

Looks like Jerry and I had the same idea about re-seeding in the 2nd round.

Given the many different ways the tiebreaking steps could be defined and ordered, I think that the "penalty flags" tiebreaker is a great way to handle ties for playoff spots.

How about "total penalty yards for unsafe plays", where "unsafe plays" include the following:

1) hitting a defenseless receiver
2) leading with the helmet
3) facemask
4) horse collar
5) chop block
6) hitting the head with the helmet, shoulder, or forearm (learned this one tonight).
7) roughing the passer
8) late hit
9) whatever penalty Suh got for stomping on a player.

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:23 am

NFL Tiebreaking Rules and Procedures Discussion

This means that, although the lower high seed (3) has less power over their opponent the highest seeded team gets highest priority (as they should). Thus, a team winning can never hurt them.

I'm having trouble understanding this part of your reasoning, specifically the part I put in boldface, and connecting the idea from the first sentence to the 2nd sentence. But, I think you have a great idea. Just not sure the NFL would go for it.

Can you help me think of an example (real or hypothetical) where winning a final regular season game could give that team a tougher 1st round playoff matchup? If this scenario is possible, then letting the top seed select their first round playoff opponent would prevent it from happening.

How about this idea?
For the 2nd round: Instead of matching up the highest seeded team with the lowest seeded team...actually re-seed the teams, this time without giving division winners priority over wildcard teams.

So, for this year's AFC (if Pit beats Den in the 1st round), then the teams would be re-seeded as follows:
1) New England
2) Baltimore
3) Pittsburgh
4) Houston

What do you think?

Your 2nd idea makes a lot of sense also. What if you just simply awarded draft priority in the order teams were eliminated from playoff contention? Winning percentage at the time of elimination would be the tiebreaker if teams were eliminated in the same week. This way, if it comes down to winning percentage, teams will have played the same number games.

Very clever ideas! And, unlike my "re-seeeding" idea, your ideas actually take away all incentive to lose at the end of the regular season (either for a better draft position or for a better playoff matchup).


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