Blog Entry

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Posted on: January 5, 2010 2:20 am

Regarding tiebreakers, efforts should be made to make things more easy for those who do not sleep with the NFL rulebook under their pillow.

Anyone care to write a draft of part, or all, of the NFL Tiebreaking Procedures, so that they are not only well understood by the average joe, but so that they leave little to no confusion among so-called "tiebreak experts"?

Category: NFL

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 7, 2011 12:43 am

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Just to clarify my comment about the unfairness in the 3-way tie for the 3rd overall draft pick in 2008 (among Atl-KC-Oak):
- In my analysis, I considered the odds before any tiebreakers are applied (thus i considered Oak and KC were equally likely to win/lose the AFC tiebreaker).

Note: Had Atlanta lost the first flip, there would have been a 2nd flip between Atlanta and Kansas City to determine the 4th pick).
Oak: (breakdown of scenarios)
win vs. KC, win vs. Atl, --- (3rd pick), 1/4
win vs. KC, loss vs. Atl, --- (4th pick) 1/4
loss vs. KC, KC win vs. Atl, Oak win vs. Atl (4th pick) 1/8
loss vs. KC, KC win vs. Atl, Oak loss vs. Atl (5th pick) 1/8
loss vs. KC, KC loss vs. Atl, --- (5th pick) 1/4

Results:
Number 3 pick:  KC and Oak each had a 1 in 4 chance, while Atlanta had a 1 in 2 chance.
Number 4 pick:  KC and Oak each had a 3 in 8 chance, while Atlanta had a 1 in 4 chance.
Number 5 pick:  KC and Oak each had a 3 in 8 chance, while Atlanta had a 1 in 4 chance.

My suggestion would have been to have Atlanta draft 5th (behind both Oak and KC) if it had lost the initial coin flip with Oakland. This evens out the odds. Call it an "AFC vs. NFC" coin flip.
Oak: (new breakdown of scenarios)
win vs. KC, win vs. Atl, --- (3rd pick), 1/4
win vs. KC, loss vs. Atl, --- (4th pick), 1/4
loss vs. KC, KC win vs. Atl, --- (4th pick), 1/4
loss vs. KC, KC loss vs. Atl, --- (5th pick), 1/4

New Results:
Number 3 pick:  KC and Oak each would have a 1 in 4 chance, while Atlanta would have a 1 in 2 chance.
Number 4 pick:  KC and Oak each would have a 1 in 2 chance, while Atlanta would have no chance.
Number 5 pick:  KC and Oak each would have a 1 in 4 chance, while Atlanta would have a 1 in 2 chance.

The fact that Kansas City and Oakland are in the same conference puts them at a disadvantage compared to Atlanta (the lone team from the NFC).

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2010 12:53 am

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

A lot of focus this tiebreak season has been on re-rewriting the tiebreak procedure. Here is the newest and best version, with contributions from several different people. Apologies in advance for formatting issues (ie. formatting for font size, line spacing, and line centering all vanish when I hit the "submit" button.)

NFL Tiebreaking Procedure

2011 Season

Goals

1) Robustness : handles all possible situations.

2) Accuracy : handles all situations exactly as they are currently handled.

3) Clarity : easily understood by fans and media.

4) Conciseness : no repetitive or superfluous language.

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

6) Independence: capability of each section to stand alone.

Prepared by Brett

with help from Agn, Database, Jeff, Dave, and Juleswallet.

December, 2010

Tiebreaking Steps

Winning percentages are used for all records (including overall W-L-T records); ties count as half wins and half losses.

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.

Divisional Tiebreaking Steps

2) Division record.

3) Common Games record.

4) Conference record.

5) Strength of Victory.

6) Strength of Schedule.

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 (to break ties between teams in different divisions)

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

2) Conference record.

3) Common Games record, minimum of 4.

4) Strength of Victory.

5) Strength of Schedule.

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 common 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.

Instructions for Special 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 (and so forth until all tied teams are ranked within their division).

2) Ties 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.

Tiebreaker Functions

1) Divisional Tiebreakers

(a) Determine division winners.

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

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

(d) Determine seeding among tied wildcard teams from the same division , if no tiebreakers are needed to select wildcard teams over other tied teams. In that case, tied wildcard teams from the same division are seeded in the order they are selected.

(e) Rank all tied teams within their division so that 2011 regular season schedules can be configured.

2) Interdivisional Tiebreakers

(a) Break ties for a wildcard spot between teams from different divisions. (If necessary, the Divisional Tiebreakers reduce tied teams to one per division.)

(b) Determine seeding among tied wildcard teams from different divisions , if no tiebreakers are needed to select wildcard teams over other tied teams. In that case, tied wildcard teams from different divisions are seeded in the order they are selected.

(c) Determine seeding among tied division winners.

Tiebreaking Terms

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.

Common Game

a) A common game is one that is played against a common opponent.

c) If a team has played two games against the same common opponent, each game counts.

d) In multi-team ties, for an opponent to be considered “common”, it must be common amongst all tied teams.

Strength of Victory

a) A team's Strength of Victory is the combined record of the opponents that team 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”.

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).

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.

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: January 20, 2010 9:56 am

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Being the only team from the NFC, Atlanta had a 1 in 2 chance of winning the 3-way tie-breaker, while Oakland and Kansas City each had a 1 in 4 chance. Of course, it would be more fair if each team had a 1 in 3 chance.
This is analogous to the situation where 2 teams from one division and one from another compete for a wild-card spot. The team that finished below the other in the division has NO CHANCE of getting that sopt.

So in the KC/OAK/ATL. KC had no chance of getting the higher pick position. Oak and Atl each had 50-50 chance.

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: January 19, 2010 12:01 pm

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

my version of the conference tiebreaking procedure....because at the point in time when draft order ties are broken, all division ties will have already been sorted out.

Good point.

As to the 4 teams eliminated each play-off week, they will not rotate unless season W-L-T % was the same. Cin/NE will rotate, as will Phi/GB.

The four elimated this week all have different records, and thus will not rotate, neither will conference runners-up, since their records cannot be the same this year.

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2010 9:15 am

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

In response to my draft order tiebreaking procedure, Agn commented:

...if all teams after SoS are from same division, division TB is applied.
I refer only to the conference tiebreaking procedure (not the division tiebreaking procedure), because in my version of the conference tiebreaking procedure....

1) The first note is "Break all division ties first."

AND

2) The first tiebreaking step is " (a) Eliminate all but the highest ranked team from each division."

I think this handles the division ties properly with regards to the Conference Tiebreakers. I intentionally avoid saying "division tiebreakers" in the "Determining the Draft Order" section, because at the point in time when draft order ties are broken, all division ties will have already been sorted out.

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 16, 2010 9:04 am

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Also, now that NE and CIN were eliminated in the same round, and have the same record, they will alternate thru the draft at 21-22.
It remains to be seen if NE and Cin will alternate between 21 and 22, or if there will be a 4-way rotation between all 4 teams eliminated in the Wild Card round.

The only thing I am certain of is the first round order for picks no. 21-24.

21. Cincinnati, 10-6 (weaker SoS than NE)
22. New England, 10-6 (stronger SoS than Cin)
23. Green Bay, 11-5 (weaker SoS than Phi)
24. Philadelphia, 11-5 (stronger SoS than GB)

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2010 8:53 pm

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Here is a little info (from Wikipedia) about our friend, Nicolas de Condorcet. I'll take any comparison to this guy as a compliment.

Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet (17 September 1743 – 28 March 1794), known as Nicolas de Condorcet , was a French , , and early who devised the concept of a . Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a , free and equal , , and for women and people of all races. His ideas and writings were said to embody the ideals of the and , and remain influential to this day. He died a mysterious death in prison after a period of being a fugitive from French Revolutionary authorities.

Condorcet was recognized worldwide and worked with such famous scientists as and . He soon became an honorary member of many foreign academies and philosophic societies notably the (1785), in , , and the United States.

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2010 7:45 pm

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Atlanta-Oakland-Kansas City, 3-way tie in 2008

From Jim Gindin's web pages,

Here is a complete list of the 2008 draft order which includes the tiebreakers used to break each tie.

http://www.solecismic.com/frontierb

log/?p=192

Great confusion
If you read all the comments below the draft order, you will see there was great confusion as to how the tiebreaking steps would be implented that year - with regards to the 3-way tie between Atlanta, Oakland, and Kansas City. All were 4-12 with a .516 SoS.
It seems as if the NFL simply thought that there would never be a multi-way tie in Strength of Schedule, in which there was at least one team from each conference (or failed to consider this possibility).

This article, below, appears to be the official word from the NFL. However, had Atlanta lost the coin flip, this article does not specify whether Atlanta would get to flip again (vs. KC) for the 4th pick, or if Atlanta would simply get the 5th pick by virtue of losing the coin flip.

http://www.nfl.com/draft/story?id=09000d5d805a3a57&template=wi
thout-video&confirm=true

Being the only team from the NFC, Atlanta had a 1 in 2 chance of winning the 3-way tie-breaker, while Oakland and Kansas City each had a 1 in 4 chance. Of course, it would be more fair if each team had a 1 in 3 chance.

Based on this unfair advantage, had Atlanta lost the initial coin flip, it would make more sense to me if Atlanta did not get a 2nd chance to win a coin flip and, instead, had to pick behind both Oakland and Kansas City.

Maybe someone can get to the bottom of this.

Had Atlanta lost the coin flip, would there have been a 2nd flip between Atlanta and Kansas City? Most people assume so, but is there proof?

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2010 6:46 pm

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

Take a look at

This is a great article. I had actually come across it once before, but it was great to read it again.

I had just posted a similar looking link (very similar) on a different site.....

"http://www.solecismic.com/fro
n
tierblog/?p=192" - Only the number at the end is different. "p=192" instead of "p=193".

Based on this I now have access to all of Jim Gindin's pages! Thanks!

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2010 6:03 pm

## Making NFL Tiebreaking Steps Easier to Follow

I don't agree that process reverts when any team gets dropped off, it only reverts when there are only 2 teams. We can agree to disagree. :)

Why would I want to rewrite fiction? Of course, I know you don't want to rewrite the rule that we disagree on. :)

I was merely suggesting you could...

(a) Rewrite the part that could potentially lead someone to believe (based on my description) that a 3rd place team could leap a 2nd place team.

OR

(b) Rewrite the part that you thought was unclear.

I thought you were refering to the "x-1" part as being the unclear part. (The part about Pit being eligible for the 2nd Wild Card even though Bal eliminated them from the 1st.).

Although, am I correct that now the only "unclear" part is the part about "reverting to step (b) when teams remain tied while others are eliminated"?

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