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  1. #1

    Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation



    I was reading through the thread about the second wild card spot being up for grabs, and there appears to be quite a bit of confusion as to where the Ravens currently stand and how to apply the tiebreakers. Someone also asked for the current conference standings at one point, so I figured that it might be a good idea to do a walk-through of the tiebreakers and how to figure out where everyone falls. At this point in the season, who currently holds that last playoff spot doesn't mean much of anything with so many games still left to play, but I think it's useful to at least understand how to work through the tiebreakers so we can figure out where the Ravens stand as the season moves along.

    According to the official NFL standings, this is the pecking order for the six teams in the AFC with a 5-6 record:

    Team / Conference Record
    1. Titans / 4-4
    2. Steelers / 4-4
    3. Ravens / 5-4
    4. Chargers / 3-5
    5. Jets / 2-6
    6. Dolphins / 4-3

    So how is this determined? Here are the official NFL tiebreakers. I'm not going to take the space to post them all here, but the relevant tiebreaker steps are cited below. The situation here is 3 or more clubs from different divisions. The relevant tiebreaker list is as follows:

    Three Teams, Different Divisions
    1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.

    2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)

    3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
    Who is #1?
    Looking at step 1, the Chargers and Titans automatically advance since they are each the only team in their respective divisions with a 5-6 record. To determine which teams from the other two divisions advance, we need the division tiebreakers for two teams:

    Two Teams, Same Division
    1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs).

    2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
    The Steelers "win" the AFC North due to their head-to-head win over the Ravens. In the AFC East, 1) does not apply because the Jets and Dolphins have not yet played one another. Proceeding to 2), the Jets "win" due to their superior division winning percentage (2-2 vs. 0-2).

    So in the race for the last wildcard spot, the first tiebreaker whittles the pool down to the Jets, Titans, Chargers, and Steelers. Moving on to step 2, the Titans have beaten each of the other 3 teams, giving them the final wildcard spot. Now that the #1 team has been determined, everything resets and we go back to the beginning.

    Who is #2?
    According to the first tiebreaker, we once again whittle down the remaining teams to one from each division. From before, these teams are the Steelers, Jets, and Chargers. Step 2 of the tiebreaker now no longer applies, as none of these three teams has beaten or lost to each of the other two. According to step 3, the Steelers claim the #2 slot due to their superior conference winning percentage (see above).

    Who is #3?
    We reset everything again and go back to the first tiebreaker. The teams in question are now the Jets, Dolphins, Chargers, and Ravens. Whittling down to one team from each division, we're left with the Ravens, Jets, and Chargers. Step 2 (head-to-head sweep) once again does not apply, so the Ravens take the 3rd spot based on a superior conference record.

    Who is #4?
    This time when we go back to the beginning and whittle the teams down to one from each division, we are left with only two teams: the Chargers and Jets. We now need a new tiebreaker list, the one for two teams from different divisions:

    Two Teams, Different Divisions
    1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
    2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
    The Chargers and Jets have not played one another, so the Chargers take the fourth spot due to their better conference record.

    Who are #5 and #6?
    The two remaining teams, the Jets and Dolphins, are in the same division, so we use the two-team division tiebreaker. From before, the Jets "win" due to a better division record.

    As this hopefully makes clear, determining who is currently the #6 playoff seed is nowhere near as simple as looking at conference records, like some thought. The Dolphins have a better conference winning percentage than 4 out of the other 5 teams, and yet are dead last among them. There can potentially be many more steps required in the tiebreaking process, but in reality this is about as complicated as tiebreakers get. If you understand the process here, you should be able to determine tiebreakers yourself in just about any situation.

    I hope that this is clear and that some people will find it useful. If not, sorry for wasting your time.
    Last edited by TheRockDoctor; 11-25-2013 at 02:23 PM. Reason: Added bold for emphasis. No, the exact current standings are not important, but understanding tiebreakers is.




  2. #2
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    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    It's like a calculus class. LOL

    The important question is - Do the Ravens still control their own destiny?




  3. #3
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    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    all of this is meaningless at this stage - beat Pitt and then we can start tracking it. They still play Pats and Bengals too
    World Domination 3 Points at a Time!




  4. #4

    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenswintitle View Post
    all of this is meaningless at this stage - beat Pitt and then we can start tracking it. They still play Pats and Bengals too
    I'm aware that it's meaningless at this stage. That's why I said this:

    Quote Originally Posted by TheRockDoctor View Post
    At this point in the season, who currently holds that last playoff spot doesn't mean much of anything with so many games still left to play...
    I still think that it's useful to track it though, if for no other reason than to gain a better understanding of the tiebreakers, especially since there appears to be so much misunderstanding of them.




  5. #5

    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by ERey View Post
    The important question is - Do the Ravens still control their own destiny?
    To me, controlling your own destiny means that if you win your remaining games, you’re in no matter what your opponents do. Let's take a look at just one scenario: the Ravens win out and the Titans win out. If this were to happen (not likely), and these were the only two teams tied for the last spot, they would have the same overall record and the same conference record. The next tiebreaker would then be common games, of which there would need to be a minimum of four. This does apply; both the Titans and Ravens have each played the Broncos, Texans, Steelers, and Jets (or will have played them). If each team were to win out, the Ravens would have a common game record of 3-2, and the Titans would have a common games record of 4-1.

    It's too complicated to go through all of the different scenarios, but no - IMO, the Ravens do not control their own destiny because even if they won out, they would need at least one team to falter.




  6. #6
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    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenswintitle View Post
    all of this is meaningless at this stage - beat Pitt and then we can start tracking it. They still play Pats and Bengals too


    I don't why anyone would care where they currently stand with 8 teams in the running.
    He Who Dares.....Wins




  7. #7

    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by ERey View Post
    It's like a calculus class. LOL

    The important question is - Do the Ravens still control their own destiny?
    Probably not. But the Ravens need to take care of business first with Pittsburgh and ultimately New England here at home. They really need to win out all of their remaining games to be in the conversation for a sixth seed.




  8. #8

    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenswintitle View Post
    all of this is meaningless at this stage - beat Pitt and then we can start tracking it. They still play Pats and Bengals too
    Yea, our schedule is very tough from here on out. I have a bad feeling about the steeler's game. We should have burried them when we had the chance.




  9. #9
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    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Um, just FTR, I laid this all out yesterday evening in this post....& (astoundingly enough for me) in fewer words.

    The OP is correct that none of this means anything right now, with so much of the schedule to be played (& so many games pitting contenders against one another).




  10. #10

    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by lobachevsky View Post
    Um, just FTR, I laid this all out yesterday evening in this post....& (astoundingly enough for me) in fewer words.
    Sorry, I simply didn't see it. I try to read as much of the forum as I can, but I don't see everything.

    But just FTR, while you did come to the right conclusion as to who currently holds the #6 seed, it was fortuitous that you did. I by no means consider myself an expert, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that you made a mistake here:

    Remaining teams (PGH, NYJ, SD and TEN) have no common head to head so it goes to AFC records, with PGH 4-4, NYJ 2-6, SD 3-5, TEN 4-4, so SD & NYJ are eliminated;
    Tennessee has beaten all three of Pittsburgh, NYJ, and San Diego - this causes them to advance, not the AFC records. It's a small mistake, but had the AFC records shaken out a little differently, you would have come to a different, and erroneous, conclusion -- overall AFC record doesn't matter in this particular case.

    And congratulations on using fewer words. It is a bit easier to do so when you're just determining one slot and not sorting the entire 5-6 pile...
    Last edited by TheRockDoctor; 11-26-2013 at 12:50 AM. Reason: NYJ, not NYG




  11. #11

    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by ravenwoman View Post
    They really need to win out all of their remaining games to be in the conversation for a sixth seed.
    They certainly don't have much room for error, but I don't think they have to win out. One loss, assuming that it's not to Pittsburgh, probably doesn't derail their chances too much. With how mediocre most of the AFC is, it's also not inconceivable that 8-8 could get them in.




  12. #12
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    Re: Current wildcard standings / Tiebreaker explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by TheRockDoctor View Post
    Sorry, I simply didn't see it. I try to read as much of the forum as I can, but I don't see everything.
    'Sokay, it was kinda buried. I did the heavy figuring for bracketology here last season & sorta committed to doing the same again this year, but am holding off on the WC stuff until the team gets back to .500. If they crap the bed Turkey Night it ain't gonna matter much.

    But just FTR, while you did come to the right conclusion as to who currently holds the #6 seed, it was fortuitous that you did. I by no means consider myself an expert, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that you made a mistake here:

    Tennessee has beaten all three of Pittsburgh, NYJ, and San Diego - this causes them to advance, not the AFC records. It's a small mistake, but had the AFC records shaken out a little differently, you would have come to a different, and erroneous, conclusion -- overall AFC record doesn't matter in this particular case.
    Oops. You are correct, sir--it's not necessary for all the contenders to have played one another, only that one has & has beaten all the rest of them. Next time I'll look closer at each one's schedule...

    And congratulations on using fewer words. It is a bit easier to do so when you're just determining one slot and not sorting the entire 5-6 pile...
    Sorry if you read it as a potshot at you. It was actually aimed at my own well-established reputation as the site's poster boy for fulminating logorrhea. Had I arranged to be paid by the word in this existence I'd be richer than Bloomberg right now...




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