NFL Playoffs & Seeding Probability

Ed Hillel

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In other news, the Arizona Cardinals are on pace to become the first 11-5 team to miss the playoffs since the 2008 Patriots.

That dubious distinction (combined with NFC Wild Card Weekend likely featuring two 11-5 teams on the road against two teams with inferior records) will not go unnoticed. Prepare yourselves for a lot of hand wringing and calls for playoff expansion and/or an end to the Division system altogether.

(By way of explanation: the Cardinals are 10-5. If the 49ers win tomorrow night (vs.ATL) and the Saints win next week (vs.TB), the Cardinals will lose the tiebreaker to both due to Division Win %.)


The Rams are on the upswing and have a top 3 pick and their first as well. May be the best division I have ever seen.
 
Dec 10, 2012
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axx said:
The way I understand it is this:
 
If SD wins, Miami gets in if they win. If they lose and Baltimore wins, Balt is in. If M+B lose, SD is in.
If SD loses, Balt gets in if they win. If they lose and Miami wins, Miami is in. If they all 3 lose, Pittsburgh can get in if they win.
Ok, who gets in if they all 4 lose? Miami, right?
 

dynomite

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Dan to Theo to Ben said:
Ok, who gets in if they all 4 lose? Miami, right?
 
Well, it won't happen, but the answer is Baltimore... because of the Jets.
 
  • 6th Seed - Baltimore (8-8)
    Wins tie break over NY Jets and San Diego based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Miami (NY Jets wins tie break over Miami based on best win percentage in division games).
EDIT: Nevermind.
 
Dec 10, 2012
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dynomite said:
 
Well, it won't happen, but the answer is Baltimore... because of the Jets.
 
  • 6th Seed - Baltimore (8-8)
    Wins tie break over NY Jets and San Diego based on best win percentage in conference games. Division tie break was initially used to eliminate Miami (NY Jets wins tie break over Miami based on best win percentage in division games).
EDIT: Also, interesting that no team has clinched its playoff position before Week 17 this year.  That's rare, right?
KC has clinched the 5 position.
 

ivanvamp

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Jul 18, 2005
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swiftaw said:
I'd actually like to see the end of the Conference system. 8 divisions, winner of each makes the playoffs plus 4 wild cards, seeded 1 through 12.
 
That's fine.  Just no expansion of the playoffs.  No added teams.  The divisional system and playoffs are just about ideal as it is right now.  Schedule is super-easy, the right amount of teams make the playoffs, making the regular season games extremely important but not the end-all if you lose one.  The NFL has it almost exactly right.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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swiftaw said:
I'd actually like to see the end of the Conference system. 8 divisions, winner of each makes the playoffs plus 4 wild cards, seeded 1 through 12.
 
Ugh.
 
Divisions were made to maximize profit. The more divisions, the more teams that can "compete" for a playoff spot. Give me 2 conferences, top 6 teams make playoffs from each. I don't care if I don't see any NFC teams until the Superbowl.
 

Dehere

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Don't like the inconsistency in the tiebreak procedure where the division record can be used to eliminate a team before going to conference record, but a head-to-head game can't be used to eliminate a team before going to conference record.
 

MarcSullivaFan

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Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
Ugh.
 
Divisions were made to maximize profit. The more divisions, the more teams that can "compete" for a playoff spot. Give me 2 conferences, top 6 teams make playoffs from each. I don't care if I don't see any NFC teams until the Superbowl.
I like this too, but can't see it ever happening, given the reduction in cap-sales opportunities.

What if you kept the divisional system, but a wild card team with a two or greater win advantage over a divisional winner would be seeded higher.

Not only would this be more equitable, but it would also create more meaningful games in the final two weeks. KC, for example, would still have an outside shot at the 2 seed.

Of course, it will also never happen.
 

DJnVa

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Dehere said:
Don't like the inconsistency in the tiebreak procedure where the division record can be used to eliminate a team before going to conference record, but a head-to-head game can't be used to eliminate a team before going to conference record.
 
If you didn't have that, you could have a team finish 3rd in it's division but make the playoffs over the team finishing second.
 
It's not an inconsistency.
 

Dehere

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But why is that more acceptable than having Miami potentially go to the playoffs in a three-way tie over a Baltimore team that beat them head-to-head?
 
The inconsistency is that in a three way tie conference record either should always be the 1st tiebreaker or never be the 1st tiebreaker, IMO.
 

swiftaw

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Ugh.

Divisions were made to maximize profit. The more divisions, the more teams that can "compete" for a playoff spot. Give me 2 conferences, top 6 teams make playoffs from each. I don't care if I don't see any NFC teams until the Superbowl.


My issue with conferences is that it potentially eliminates the possibility of the two best teams meeting in the Super Bowl due to arbitrary allocation to conferences. Surely the NFL would've loved a cowboys - 49ers Super Bowl back in the 90's or a Brady-Manning Super Bowl.

Of course, it's not only an issue with the NFL, wouldn't MLB love a Red Sox - Yankees Wolrd Series?
 

DJnVa

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Dehere said:
But why is that more acceptable than having Miami potentially go to the playoffs in a three-way tie over a Baltimore team that beat them head-to-head?
 
The inconsistency is that in a three way tie conference record either should always be the 1st tiebreaker or never be the 1st tiebreaker, IMO.
 
I don't know. But speaking for myself, I accept and it makes perfect sense to me, that the first thing you do is break your tie within your division to establish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
 

pdaj

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Dan to Theo to Ben said:
KC has clinched the 5 position.
 
And as a result, it looks as though the Chiefs may "lie down" and rest their starters next week.
 

 

Chiefs coach Andy Reid indicated to reporters Monday that he is open to the idea of resting starters in Week 17.

And here's why no fantasy leagues should extend into the NFL's most-meaningless week. With nothing left to play for -- Kansas City is locked into the AFC's No. 5 seed -- Reid could conceivably field a lineup consisting of Chase Daniel, Knile Davis, and Junior Hemingway against the Chargers. Reid says he's made no formal decision yet, but he's "had some success (resting starters) in the past."
 
 
 
This is good news for Miami -- assuming they actually beat the Jets.
 

singaporesoxfan

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steveluck7 said:
so, with the news that KC will likely punt their game, MIA essentially gets in with a win. I'm hoping that comes to pass and BAL gets left out.
If KC is punting, I'm hoping that MIA loses, which means both BAL and MIA get left out and SD gets in.

Edit: Scratch that, I'm hoping BAL and MIA both tie, which would be even more agonising for them.
 

axx

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Problem is if Miami or Baltimore wins in the early games, SD might rest their starters too since they would have nothing to play for.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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axx said:
Problem is if Miami or Baltimore wins in the early games, SD might rest their starters too since they would have nothing to play for.
Teams eliminated from playoff qualification almost never rest their starters. There is little downside and, while the team might be eliminated, the individuals often have plenty to play for - guys looking to pad their stats, coaches looking to keep their jobs, a little bit of pride, etc.
 

Briz

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Updated odds from FO:  http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/playoffodds
 
Pats have won the division and clinched a 1-4 seed.  They are 24% for the #1 seed, 55% for the #2 seed, 9% for the 3 Seed and 12% for the 4 seed.  They make the AFCCG 60% of the time, make the SB 31% of the time and 14% they win the Lombardi.
 
Note:  Rounding to the whole % results in the numbers totaling 100% +/- 1%
 
AFC Seeding Breakdown:
 
1) Den 76%; NE 24%
2) NE 55%; Den 24%; Cin 17%; Indy 5%
3) Cinci 64%; indy 27%; NE 9%
4) Indy 68%; Cinci, 20%; NE 12%
5) KC 100%
6) Mia 59%; Bal 19%; SD 13%; Pit 9%
 
NFC Seeding Breakdown:
 
1) Sea 90%; Car 7%; SF 3%
2) Car 71%; NO 23%; SF 7%
3) Phi 63%; Chi 25%; Dal 12%
4) Chi 42%; GB 33%; 25%
5) SF 62%; NO 13%; 7%; SEA 10%; Ari 9%
6) NO 47%; SF 29%; Car 16%; Ari 9%
 
PostSeason odds (Teams with < 1% to win SB have been omitted):
 
Team        Conf App         Conf Win         SB Win
SEA              65.7%             41.4%            24.3%
DEN              72.3%             42.5%            20.3%
CAR              57.6%             27.6%            15.2%
NE                 60.3%            31.1%             14.2%
CIN                30.7%            13.7%              5.9%
SF                 24.5%           10.9%                5.7%
NO                22.3%             8.6%               4.0%
PHI                15.4%             7.2%               4.0%
KC                16.5%             6.8%                2.9%
IND               12.7%              3.9%               1.1%
 

Briz

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tims4wins said:
Barnwell discusses home field advantage here: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/10170641/bill-barnwell-best-home-field-advantages
 
Interesting article, better than some of his recent work IMO. But my favorite part was the chart showing the home and road point differential since 2002. The Patriots average +7.2 points in road games during this time frame. For reference, only 2 teams have a better point differential AT HOME during this time frame. That is absolutely insane. Moreover, only 5 teams have a positive point differential on the road during this time, with the highest being the Steelers at 2.0. Again, the Pats are at 7.2. That means they are nearly 3 standard deviations above the mean. Simply unreal. Talk about a dynasty.
 
This is really interesting.  The meat of the numbers really speak to how dominate the Pats have been for over a decade by rankng first in point differential both home and away.
 
Another interesting aspect is that from 1990 to 2002, the pats were also only 3 pts better at home vs away.  The difference?  Overall their PD was 10 points lower:  0.2 @ home vs -3.3 away in that time period.  Basically, they have been a very consistent team for almost 25 years in terms of home vs away PD. They just improved by a net 10 pts both home and away in the BB and TB era.
 
I would be curious of the year to year breakdown.
 

axx

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shawnrbu said:
I would think the NFL pushes Dolphins/Jets to 4 to ensure the wild card spot is not clinched in the 1 PM window. Pats, Bengals and Colts should all play at the same time at 1.
 
I think they kept both at the same time so Fox in NY wouldn't lose the DH, especially after taking the NFC East Uber Allies game from them.
 

ivanvamp

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Jul 18, 2005
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I just looked here (http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/108770/2013-nfl-week-17-playoff-scenarios), and it hit me that of the four teams still fighting for that last AFC playoff spot (Bal, Mia, SD, Pit), not a single one of them controls their own destiny.  They all need a win plus something else to happen.  
 
Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with: 

1) BAL win + SD loss OR 
2) BAL win + MIA loss OR 
3) PIT loss + SD loss + MIA loss
 
Miami clinches a playoff spot with: 
1) MIA win + BAL loss OR 
2) MIA win + SD win
 
Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with: 
1) PIT win + BAL loss + MIA loss + SD loss
 
San Diego clinches a playoff spot with: 
1) SD win + BAL loss + MIA loss
 
None of them are simply a matter of "win and you're in".  Kind of amazing.
 

Briz

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AFC Playoff seeds:
 
1) Denver 13-3
2) New England 12-4
3) Cincinnati 11-5
4) Indianapolis 11-5
5) Kansas City 11-5
6) San Diego 9-7
 

Briz

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NFC Playoff seeds:

1) Seattle 13-3
2) Carolina 12-4
3) Philadelphia 10-6
4) Green Bay 8-7-1
5) San Francisco 12-4
6) New Orleans 11-5
 

ivanvamp

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Jul 18, 2005
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I think the AFC playoffs will be very interesting, but the NFC will be a bloodbath.  What an opening slate of games:  NO at Phi and SF at GB.  I think the only team with essentially no shot at making the SB from the NFC is New Orleans.  Not because they're not a really good and explosive team - they are - but because they're just not that good on the road, and as the #6 seed, they'll have to win 3 road games against excellent teams to make it.  First they'd have to beat Philly, then they automatically get to go to Seattle if they win that.  And then whoever emerges out of Car/GB/SF.  That's a ridiculously tough 3-game road stretch.
 

Briz

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Playoff odds via Football outsiders:  http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/playoffodds
 
 
Team          Conf App          Conf Win             SB Win
SEA               67.0%              42.1%                 24.9%
DEN               69.9%              42.0%                 20.2%
NE                 64.8%               31.9%                 14.7%
CAR               59.8%              27.5%                 14.5%
PHI                 26.4%              12.3%                  6.5%
CIN                 23.8%             11.0%                  4.7%
SF                  17.3%               7.0%                   3.5%
KC                  20.0%               8.2%                   3.4%
NO                  13.6%               5.4%                   2.8%
GB                   16.0%              5.6%                   2.3%
SD                   12.1%              4.4%                   1.8%
IND                  9.5%                2.5%                    0.6%
 

Hendu for Kutch

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DJnVa

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I think the 82% number comes from them being 14 point favorites at the time.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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Interesting.  Wish I had known that.  I'd take UMass playing the Chargers and getting 14 points.
 
I guess that would explain why SD was over 50% after the missed FG.