The Dizzying Tiebreaker Rules

December 16th, 2008
Not even a supergenius like Chucky or Wile E. Coyote can figure out the playoff tiebreaker formulas.

Not even a supergenius like Chucky or Wile E. Coyote can figure out the playoff tiebreaker formulas.

Confused in trying to determine how the Bucs can make/miss the playoffs depending on the final two weeks of the season? Well, you don’t have to be an offensive supergenius like Chucky to do the math. Let Peter King do it for you.

King, writing on, tries to tackle the tiebreaker formulas with the Bucs, the Dixie Chicks and the Cowboys.

If Dallas, Atlanta and Tampa finish tied at 11-5, here’s why Atlanta stays home, and why the Falcons need to be rooting very hard for Ray Lewis and the Ravens Saturday night in Dallas:

In a three-team Wild Card tiebreaker, the first issue is breaking ties between two division teams. So it’s Bucs versus Falcons, if they finish tied at 11-5.

First tiebreaker: head-to-head play. They finished 1-1 against each other.

Second tiebreaker: division record, which is a tie at 3-3.

Third tiebreaker: record in common games, which is a tie at 8-4.

Fourth tiebreaker: conference record, which is a tie at 8-4.

Fifth tiebreaker: strength of victory. Now it gets interesting. If you assume wins over each of their final two foes, that would give Tampa Bay a one-game edge in strength of victory?63 wins by Buc foes, 62 by Falcon foes. But you don’t know how many wins those foes will get, collectively, over the last two weeks, so this is an unpredictable tiebreaker right now. Which could lead us to …

Sixth tiebreaker: strength of schedule. And this is where it would end, because the Eagles tied the Bengals. Atlanta played the Eagles and Tampa Bay did not. So that tie would break the tie, because it would be factored into the winning percentage for the Falcons, and it would make the percentage, for better or worse, different than Tampa Bay’s.

Got that? I’m not sure I do.

Joe isn’t sure he has it either. In fact, Joe will take the easy way out, leave it to the braintrust of the, crack open a few beers and wait until the regular season plays itself out.

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