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  1. #1
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    Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers



    We won’t get into a full discussion about the Wild Card, but I want to look at the tiebreakers strictly with the Steelers in the event they are tied with the Ravens for the division lead at season’s end. In doing so, we are (rightfully) ignoring the Cincinnati Bengals. First, a look at the results and upcoming opponents is useful:

    Ravens (7-2): @Pit, SD, Pit, @Was, Den, NYG, @Cin (3-0 in Div, 1-1 vs. non-common opps, 6-1 in Conf, 1-1 vs. NFC)
    Steelers (6-3): Bal, @Cle, @Bal, SD, @Dal, Cin, Cle (1-0 in Div, 1-1 vs. non-common opps, 3-3 in Conf, 3-0 vs. NFC)

    By tiebreaker:

    Head –to-Head: It’s the first tiebreaker, easy to understand, and it’s up for grabs. If either team sweeps, they are clearly in the driver’s seat. Affectively, a Steelers sweep would give them a 1.5 game lead on the division and a Ravens sweep would give Baltimore a 3.5 game lead with 5 game results not known.

    Division Record: It’s the 2nd tiebreaker and will only matter if the Ravens and Pittsburgh split their 2 games. That would make the Ravens 4-1 in division and the Steelers 2-1. The Steelers would have both games against the Browns and home against Cin. The Ravens would have just @Cin in the season finale. A tie might be the most likely result, but either team could win this tiebreaker. One element favoring the Steelers is that the Bengals may be playing for a wild card in the season finale, but the Browns almost certainly won’t be.

    Common Opponents: Let me start by saying the best way to determine who has or can win common opponents is by looking at the non-common opponents (2 games only). To win the common opponent tiebreaker, a team must lose the non-common opponent comparison, since the overall records must be equal. The Ravens are already finished at 1-1 with a win over NE and a loss @Hou. The Steelers are also 1-1 with a loss to Ten and a win over the Jets. Neither team can win the common opponents tiebreaker.

    Conference Record: For the Conference Record tiebreaker to matter, there are 3 prerequisites:

    • The Steelers and Ravens split
    • Both teams finish with the same divisional record (we’ll assume 5-1 in the example below)
    • Both teams have to finish tied in the standings (obvious for a tiebreaker to be used, but it forces some outcomes)

    Similar to the Common Opponents tiebreaker, the easiest way to determine the winner is by which has the worse non-conference record. Right now the worst the Steelers can finish is 3-1 with a loss to the Cowboys. The best the Ravens can finish is 3-1 with wins over the Giants and Redskins. So the Ravens can win the conference record tiebreaker, but the Steelers cannot.

    For the Ravens not to win by a tiebreaker up to and including Conference Record, an awful lot has to happen. Let’s consider the outcomes forced for both teams to finish 3-1 against the NFC and require another tiebreaker. The prerequisite outcomes would require a starting record of:

    • Bal: 11-3 (7-2 current + 1-1 split with Pit + 1-0 other Div + 2-0 NFC). @SD and Den would be the only games unaccounted for and the Ravens would need to lose both of them to finish 11-5.
    • Pit: 10-5 (6-3 current + 1-1 split with Bal + 3-0 other Div + 0-1 NFC). SD would be the only game unaccounted for, which Pit would have to win to go 11-5.

    It is also possible that the Steelers could go 2-1 in division and the Ravens 0-1 to leave both teams 10-6 and tied through this tiebreaker. Regardless of how the division tie is forged, it’s not possible for the Steelers to win the Conference Record tiebreaker and there is a large number of combinations for the Ravens to do so.

    Strength of Victory: Were all the conditions under the Conference record satisfied, the Ravens and Steelers tie would fall to Strength of Victory. It’s a longshot, but tiebreaker analysis is almost all about longshots. Amazingly, the concussion status of Michael Vick could play a big role in this tiebreaker. Assuming each team wins out in the division, the Steelers and Ravens would each have 3 opposing teams they would be hoping to succeed:

    Bal: NE (6-3), Oak (3-6), and Dal (4-5). Currently 13-14
    Pit: NYJ (3-6), SD (4-5), and Phi (3-6). Currently 10-17

    That’s an enormous deficit for the Steelers’ horses to overcome over 21 games. The results of any other games would not impact the Ravens/Steelers tiebreaker because the Ravens and Steelers would have common results against those opponents. It is possible, although unlikely, the Steelers could add the Bengals as a horse in which case the Ravens would add the Browns. That would reduce the differential to just 1 game, but would be based on the Steelers losing to the Browns while the Ravens lose to the Bengals.

    Strength of Schedule: If, by some use of magic beans, the SoV tiebreaker were to finish in a tie, the Ravens would be all but guaranteed the Strength of Schedule tiebreaker since their only 2 non-common opponents (NE and Hou) have a combined record of 14-4 while the Steelers’ non-common opponents (NYJ and Ten) have a combined record of 7-12.

    Summary: Without going to SoV, the Steelers have only 2 possible paths to beating the Ravens by tiebreaker:
    • Sweep the Ravens
    • Split with the Ravens, go 3-0 against other division opponents, and hope the Ravens lose to the Bengals in the finale

    Again ignoring the outside chance of a SoV decision and from the Ravens perspective, they need to do one of the following to guarantee a tiebreaker win:
    • Sweep the Steelers
    • Have 2 of the following 4 games go their way (Bal @Cin, Pit @Cle, Cle @Pit, or Cin @ Pit)
    • Forge any tie where either the Steelers win @Dal or the Ravens lose either against NYG or @Was

    While there is still a real possibility the Ravens could lose the division outright, if the Ravens can avoid the Steelers’ 2 paths, they are essentially another half game up in the standings.




  2. #2
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    Wow that is a great analysis Film. IMO a split is most likely and whoever wins this weekend will have momentum. I can't overlook the Browns who always play Pitt tough and could be a trap game. When I watch their games they are competing and playing hard so I wouldn't say that's an automatic W. Cinci finally beat a team with a winning record and they could be a party spoiler too.
    I guess it's one game at a time
    World Domination 3 Points at a Time!




  3. #3

    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    Picked up on some of this in another thread, but not in as much depth. Great job. The Ravens do have a big lead on tiebreakers, but still the same thing remains - we sweep the Steelers as we ought to, then it's not a case of if we win the division, but when. It only gets complicated if the Ravens fail to take care of business.

    As for when, the Ravens can have the division sown up by M&T Bank vs Steelers. How sweet would that be? Beating the Steelers seals the division. If the Ravens beat the Steelers tomorrow and go beat the Chargers, while the Steelers slip up at Browns (with Ben out, you can't rule it out - it is in Cle), that leaves Bal at 9-2 with the Steelers at 6-5 with five to go. A Ravens win makes it four game lead with four to go and the head to head tiebreaker sealed. Even if the Steelers beat the Browns and putting them at 7-6 after being swept, the Ravens can seal it at Danny's place the following week with a win or if Steelers lose to the Chargers.

    If the Ravens win tomorrow, they could have a scenario of sealing the wildcard next weekend providing the Chargers and Bengals both lose as well this weekend. That leaves the chasing pack all on 4-6 with the Ravens on 8-2. A Ravens win over the Chargers means the Ravens are 9-2 with the Chargers on 4-7, a five game lead with five to go - H2H in the bag. None of the following chasers in Dolphins, Bills or Bengals can overtake the Ravens on tiebreakers - Ravens would be 8-1 in the conference which none of them can match (a Ravens win tomorrow seals divisional tiebreaker over the Bengals anyway) so a CIN loss + MIA loss + BUF loss would be sufficient. It's only hypothetical and we're all after the division and 1st round bye, but it's nice to know we're potentially only a weekend or two away from mathematically sealing a fifth straight year in the playoffs.




  4. #4
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    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    Film-
    Can we lobby to get you to replace Skip Bayless? (I'd include Mike Preston as another alternative for you to replace, but I typically try not to insult forum posters such as yourself!!!) Thanks for a well thought out and intelligent commentary.

    FWIW, if the Ravens were to somehow sweep the Steelers (IMHO, a real possibility, but perhaps a split is more likely), they'd be at least 9-2 and Pitt at 6-5, with both having the 5 games left that you mention. I'd think that in practical terms, it's highly unlikely that the Ravens would boot all 5 games (given their sweep of Pitt), so I see them being the Div winner in that case, outright. I base this opinion on the fact that Pitt is still a legitimate opponent to any NFL team, Roeth et al playing or not, and us sweeping them looks to be a pretty tall order.

    If Pitt were to sweep us (of course, I'd be pushing up daisies in that case, so it wouldn't matter to me!), I'd feel very pessimistic but making the playoffs (if as a WC) doesn't appear to be out of the realm, either. It would put us at 7-4, with Pitt at 8-3. In this scenario, I'd have to believe that Pitt overcomes the adversity of losing their starting QB and several other players, and possibly runs the table (or has 1 or 2 losses more). Also, the Ravens would likely have shown that they may not have the wherewithall to be "the man" in the AFC, Texans notwithstanding. But (Beau's big BUTT!), in looking at the other AFC divisions and records, I really don't see the Bills, Dolphins, Chargers, Raiders or Titans suddenly emerging with a record significantly over .500. Cincy MAY find a winning streak, and the Jets or Browns....okay, the Jets....could also go on a tear, but I don't see any of these as likely. Thus, if the Ravens win 2 or 3 of their other 5 games, I think that they could likely be in the playoffs, tie or no with Pitt.

    NOTE TO MODS: Can you pin this thread to the top of the forum so we can follow Film's breakdowns as the next couple weeks unfold? No biggie if not.
    Thanks...




  5. #5

    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrian View Post
    If the Ravens win tomorrow, they could have a scenario of sealing the wildcard next weekend providing the Chargers and Bengals both lose as well this weekend. That leaves the chasing pack all on 4-6 with the Ravens on 8-2. A Ravens win over the Chargers means the Ravens are 9-2 with the Chargers on 4-7, a five game lead with five to go - H2H in the bag. None of the following chasers in Dolphins, Bills or Bengals can overtake the Ravens on tiebreakers - Ravens would be 8-1 in the conference which none of them can match (a Ravens win tomorrow seals divisional tiebreaker over the Bengals anyway) so a CIN loss + MIA loss + BUF loss would be sufficient. It's only hypothetical and we're all after the division and 1st round bye, but it's nice to know we're potentially only a weekend or two away from mathematically sealing a fifth straight year in the playoffs.
    The Raiders could theoretically finish 10-6. And the Jets and Titans could both finish 9-6-1 (they play each other), or one of them could finish 10-6. I think it is going to be nearly impossible to clinch a playoff berth at 9-2, assuming we are talking about actual clinching vs. being 99.5% favorite to make it.




  6. #6
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    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    H-92--
    You're correct, of course. Not to speak for Tyrian, however I think I'm on that same page - it's certainly not an "actual clinch" at 9-2, but given the wins/losses described, it kinda suggests that the Raiders/Jets/Titans/etc., PROBABLY won't catch on fire and become playoff berth threats to the teams who are already the likely candidates. OTOH, IFF the Ravens would happen to dump the next 2 or 3 games, then I think all playoff bets change dramatically.




  7. #7

    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Haloti92 View Post
    The Raiders could theoretically finish 10-6. And the Jets and Titans could both finish 9-6-1 (they play each other), or one of them could finish 10-6. I think it is going to be nearly impossible to clinch a playoff berth at 9-2, assuming we are talking about actual clinching vs. being 99.5% favorite to make it.
    I had forgotten about the Jets and Raiders - though if Oakland loses this weekend, it'll still stand as needing BAL win + DEN win* + CIN loss + MIA loss + BUF loss + TEN loss + NYJ loss to clinch next week (again, with the scenario having BAL win + CIN loss + SD loss this weekend as stated; did forget to add TEN for next week, lost in the sea of mediocrity. Jets need to lose next week as well, what they do this week is irrelevant). None could catch the Ravens at 9-7 on conference in that scenario (Titans/Jets loss next week would be to an AFC team, giving them a fifth conf loss) except the Chargers who with two straight losses could be 4-4 and Raiders who would also stand at 4-4 with a win over the Bengals. However, if I understand correctly, even a three or more way tie, clubs being eliminated leaving two clubs automatically reverts to a two team tie, which means the Ravens would win on H2H over SD or Oak anyway (remember before the inter-divisional tie up, the intra divisional tie has to be settled first - it won't matter which, as the Ravens would hold H2H over both).

    If Oakland win this weekend against the Saints, Ravens won't be able to clinch as Raiders will play Bengals next weekend. So, yes, at the moment, there's still the chance of being able to clinch next weekend if results go our way this weekend.

    I did say it was only a hypothetical exercise. The cooler thing is that the division could be clinched in little over a fortnight.

    (*Huge addendum: Because of the current nature of the picture, the Ravens would not be able to finish less than 2nd in the division due to tiebreakers sealed over the Bengals and Browns meaning the Steelers do not factor in the tiebreak as there must always be a division winner. Houston or Indy would not factor because the Colts hold 5th and the Ravens would hold a tiebreaker on everyone else. This remains the fact even if the Colts win the division and Texans have the wildcard. In this scenario, the Titans or Jags also could not better the Texans record providing the Texans beat the Jaguars this weekend [which they will]. New England does not factor as they could not better 8-4 in AFC conf if they finished 9-7 + Ravens H2H over them.

    The Broncos are far more complicated: for them to finish 9-7, they would need to accrue at least 5 conference losses. However, they could still hold the H2H over the Ravens if it boils to a 2 way on tiebreaker, right? Not necessarily. Denver could still finish 9-7 and the Chargers and Raiders could not be any better, either as stated before. Denver would win the three way tiebreaker as they hold 3-0 in common games with the Chargers and Raiders unable to better it (both would've suffered two losses already - though this is redundant as OAK and SD need to play each other one more time). Denver would hold H2H over the Chargers. Denver and Oakland needs another step as Oakland could still draw on H2H and win on divisional tiebreaker unless the Broncos also beat the Chiefs. That would mean that both could get as far as 4-2 on divisional tiebreaker. That leads to common games. In order for this to matter, we would need to assume a Broncos win over the Ravens (A Ravens win would make all of this redundant anyway + meaning Ravens would have 10 wins) as well as a Raiders win over the Broncos. This means the Broncos would be 9-4 and thus would need to lose to Tampa Bay, Cleveland + last game against KC. They'd be 4-2 in divisional + sharing games against the AFC North and NFC South. The Broncos would have wins over Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Saints and Panthers with losses vs Browns, Falcons and Bucs. The Raiders would have wins over Steelers, Bengals, Browns, Panthers with losses vs Ravens, Saints, Bucs and Falcons. Therefore, the Broncos would have already sealed the common opponents tiebreaker win over the Raiders and subsequently could not lose the division at 9-7 - so would not be a part of the 9-7 wildcard tiebreak vs the Ravens. Phew).
    Last edited by Tyrian; 11-17-2012 at 04:50 PM.




  8. #8
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    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    I think Indy has a better chance at the playoffs than the Jets but we'll see how it unfolds




  9. #9

    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrian View Post
    I had forgotten about the Jets and Raiders - though if Oakland loses this weekend, it'll still stand as needing BAL win + CIN loss + MIA loss + BUF loss + TEN loss + NYJ loss to clinch next week (again, with the scenario having BAL win + CIN loss + SD loss this weekend as stated; did forget to add TEN for next week, lost in the sea of mediocrity. Jets need to lose next week as well, what they do this week is irrelevant). None could catch the Ravens at 9-7 on conference in that scenario (Titans/Jets loss next week would be to an AFC team, giving them a fifth conf loss) except the Chargers who with two straight losses could be 4-4 and Raiders who would also stand at 4-4 with a win over the Bengals. However, if I understand correctly, even a three or more way tie, clubs being eliminated leaving two clubs automatically reverts to a two team tie, which means the Ravens would win on H2H over SD or Oak anyway (remember before the inter-divisional tie up, the intra divisional tie has to be settled first - it won't matter which, as the Ravens would hold H2H over both).

    If Oakland win this weekend against the Saints, Ravens won't be able to clinch as Raiders will play Bengals next weekend. So, yes, at the moment, there's still the chance of being able to clinch next weekend if results go our way this weekend.

    I did say it was only a hypothetical exercise. The cooler thing is that the division could be clinched in little over a fortnight.
    Yeah, it is definitely possible that we can clinch after a win in S.D. just like you say. But it requires a lot of stuff to fall a certain way. But then again, glancing at the schedules makes me upwardly revise the chances it all happens.

    The Chargers will likely lose in Denver, the Raiders will likely lose to the Saints, and the Jets host N.E. next week in primetime and I like N.E. in that one.

    The least likely thing to happen in terms of us clinching the playoffs at 9-2 is probably Cincy losing both at K.C this weekend and home against Oakland. Cincy could easily go 2-0 there, and I think 1-1 is very likely; 0-2 not so much. The next least likely thing is Tennessee losing at Jacksonville next week. Possible for sure, but I think the Jags are in a freefall and a win vs. the Titans would be their first home win of the year.

    It is definitely interesting that it is in fact possible to clinch a playoff berth after 11 games, I am sure that isn't normally the case, but the odds are still very very low and require many specific results as you said. Still good stuff though, I now have a rooting interest in more games than normal.




  10. #10

    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenswintitle View Post
    I think Indy has a better chance at the playoffs than the Jets but we'll see how it unfolds
    Indy has a good shot at making the playoffs, certainly better than the Jets, imo. Tyrian's analysis assumed they made it as one of the two WC's. They have 3 losses, no one has 4 losses, and only two teams have 5 losses (Cincy and S.D. as Tyrian said). The Colts are looking pretty damn good in terms of the playoffs, assuming they can get a few more wins. The Colts have a lot of tough games left, but so do the Bengals and the Chargers.




  11. #11

    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    I think that fans of both teams, especially those who did not buy into the Bengals being a serious contender, long ago recognized that this game would be for the division and that is how it has played out.
    "When questioned, the Elders explained that they were in search of magical powers. However, they're actually searching for the whereabouts of a certain ring. This ring is a legendary treasure that long ago was known to exist"




  12. #12
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    Re: Ravens Divisional Tiebreaker Status vs. Steelers

    It's simply like this. The Ravens win the next 4, they win the division outright and will have a home playoff game, period.
    11-2, means Ravens having all division tiebreakers with all North teams and no possible way for any other North team to have a better record than 11-5.
    Anything extra is gravy and a chance to move up in seeding for a possible bye.
    This Ravens team must win the division so they can start the playoffs at home.




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