Tiebreakers worked for Titans and Bills, not for Ravens and Chargers

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By the time Week 17 arrived, everyone knew what it would take for the playoff contenders to nail down a playoff berth. For some, it was win and in. For others, it was win and get help.

But the simplicity of the process on Sunday overlooks the complexity of determining two playoff teams from a four-way clusterfudge of 9-7 franchises.

All four teams — Titans, Bills, Ravens, and Chargers — finished 9-7. With each team coming from a different division, all were thrown in to the tiebreaker pot.

First step: Did any team sweep the other three, and did any team lose to the other three? In this case, the answer on both counts was, “No.”

Second step: Conference record. With the Titans at 8-4 and the others no better than 7-5, the Titans claimed the first wild-card berth, making them the No. 5 seed.

The process then started again, with the Bills, Ravens, and Chargers vying for one spot.

First step: No one swept or was swept by the other two.

Second step: the Bills and Ravens were 7-5 in the AFC, the Chargers were 6-6. That left out the Chargers.

Third step: Since the Bills and Ravens didn’t play each other in 2017, the next tiebreaker became record in common opponents. The Bills and Ravens were 4-1 each.

Fourth step: Strength of victory. This entails taking the won-lost percentage of all teams beaten by the Bills and comparing it to the won-lost percentage of all teams beaten by the Ravens. And that’s how the Bills pulled it off.

Of course, the Ravens could have avoided all of that by simply holding a late lead against the Bengals, which would have vaulted Baltimore to 10-6 and given it the No. 5 seed, without reliance on any tiebreakers.

For the Chargers, it’s hard to stomach seeing the Bills in and L.A. out, especially since the two teams had the same record — and since the Chargers blew out Buffalo, 54-24. If it had been a two-team tiebreaker, the Chargers would have sailed past the Bills. Adding the team introduced other factors, and a 6-6 record in the conference ultimately sealed the team’s fate.

28 responses to “Tiebreakers worked for Titans and Bills, not for Ravens and Chargers

  1. First step: Did any team sweep the other three, and did any team lose to the other three? In this case, the answer on both counts was, “No.”

    The Titans, in fact, did defeat the Ravens this season.

  2. Not a perfect process because the two weakest teams of the four are going to playoffs. Chargers probably most talented roster rof the four except when it comes to kicking. That team should have won 12 games this year

  3. .
    Fourth step: Strength of victory. This entails taking the won-lost percentage of all teams beaten by the Bills and comparing it to the won-lost percentage of all teams beaten by the Ravens. And that’s how the Bills pulled it off.

    ——–

    On the surface it would appear that the Browns 0-16 record, which would be counted twice, torpedoed the Ravens chances.
    .

  4. Someone in LA is salty…

    Bills fan here. I’m loving it. After two decades of heartbreaker after heartbreaker, we’ve earned this one.

    If you are looking for someone to blame, I would look at the AFC South for beating up on each other with two lousy teams.

  5. Most talent: Chargers, Bills
    Least talent: Titans, Ravens

    Lesson for Chargers: Stop mucking around and win games.
    Lesson for Ravens: Force Joe F to restructure that fat contract and get some impact players.

  6. Not surprising that playing in the Charmin soft AFCN rose up to bite the Ravens. The Brownies don’t belong in any equation that involves strength of victory. The Bills coming out of the winningest division in the conference had a leg up when it came to quality of opponent. Year after year the AFCN is one of the weakest divisions in football but the fans of the teams in it cherry pick nonsense to make themselves feel better. Here are the average wins per team for the past decade per the non cherry picking folks at CHFF & PFF:
    AFCE: 8.425
    NFCE: 8.25
    NFCN: 8.25
    NFCS: 8.075
    AFCN 7.925
    AFCW: 7.725
    AFCS: 7.675
    NFCW: 7.40

  7. I am happy for the bills fans, long time coming — however the Chargers beat them squarely and it should be head to head.
    Actually, if you ask me, it should be top records period and get rid of the divisions.
    its supposed to be the best teams making it

  8. Diehard Patriots fan from Mass, but CONGRATULATIONS BUFFALO! it is good to see you back in the playoffs. Maybe we will meet in 2 weeks in Foxborough!!!

  9. “On the surface it would appear that the Browns 0-16 record, which would be counted twice, torpedoed the Ravens chances.”

    Yup, even if the Chargers would have done one better in the conference, they would have been sunk on the SOV tiebreaker after having played Cleveland, too.

    No complaints about the tiebreakers from this Charger fan. If they had taken care of business in any one of those five close losses, they’d be playing next week.

  10. guyjuneguyjune says:
    January 1, 2018 at 10:40 am
    I am happy for the bills fans, long time coming — however the Chargers beat them squarely and it should be head to head.
    Actually, if you ask me, it should be top records period and get rid of the divisions.
    its supposed to be the best teams making it

    And doing that this year would’ve changed… absolutely nothing. The top 12 records after tiebreakers made it in to the playoffs.

  11. chipper41 says:
    January 1, 2018 at 10:14 am
    Not a perfect process because the two weakest teams of the four are going to playoffs. Chargers probably most talented roster rof the four except when it comes to kicking. That team should have won 12 games this year

    ———–

    “Should Have” is the true call used by fans of losing teams

  12. Monkey Excised !! Congrats Bills/Congrats #Bills Mafia! Don’t expect a win in Jacksonville- but hope they make it interesting- this season will forever be known as ” Fourth and 12″ Andy Dalton makes the biggest play in the drought !! GO BILLS !!

  13. The crazy thing is that the Bills get into the playoffs because the ended up at exactly 9-7

    If the Ravens win one more game all season they are in with the #5 seed at 10-6 and the Bills are out

    If the Ravens lost one more game all season then the tiebreaker for the #6 seed goes to the Chargers via head to head win.

  14. Yes, the Ravens play the Browns twice a year. But they also had to play the 13-3 Steelers twice this year. They choked up a loss against them late in the season and let the Bungles drive 90 yards for the winning TD. No one feels sorry for them. They are out of the playoffs because they aren’t good enough. Not because of some tie breaker system.

  15. Commentwaitingtobedeleted,
    You referencing the AFCE being the highest winning percentage for the last decade seems to be cherry picking. Pretty sure the Patriots are raising that number not any other team in the division.

  16. Hi haters! Simple fact…the titans had a 5-1 record in their division(afc south) and beat the team who won the division twice also posted abt a 8-4 record in the afc..say what u want but sounds like a bunch of whiny babies to me! Titan Up!

  17. jasecity says:
    January 1, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Commentwaitingtobedeleted,
    You referencing the AFCE being the highest winning percentage for the last decade seems to be cherry picking. Pretty sure the Patriots are raising that number not any other team in the division.
    _______________________________________

    They aren’t my numbers. Numbers don’t lie but trolls do, they’d have you believe some silly thing like sending different teams to the playoffs makes a division strong when the reality is the opposite, all that measures is a divisions internal weakness/strength. Since every division is 12-12 against itself CHFF posited the real measure of one divisions strength vs another’s is wins per team over time, for some reason they chose 10 years. Because all divisions are .500 against themselves it discounts in division play and measures how divisions as a whole stack up against each other. It is the constant contention of trolls that the AFCE is weak and the reason for New England’s success, this measurement proves the exact opposite. The Patriots do not win any more division games than the average division winner, actually it’s less (1.53 vs 1.71 over the past decade). The AFCE isn’t the reason the Pats succeed but rather the Pats are the reason other team’s in the division do not. What metric would you rather see used as a measurement of divisional strength, one that discounts the presence of the Brownies in the AFCN perhaps?

  18. For the Chargers, this loss is again on management. Koo, the trick kicker was pathetic. (But there’s a large Korean population in L-a-L-a-Land!) Josh Lambo was ‘dumped’ for Koo, who Kan’t. I predicted early on that the place kicking game would be the demise of the Chargers. Tolesco should be canned. Just too many personnel mistakes. Weddle, Koo, Mike Williams and failing to draft Ramczek at tackle. (Mike Williams DID catch a pass yesterday.) P.S. There was only a trickle of Charger fans at the game yesterday. Mostly die-hard Raiders fans who are being betrayed with the Raider ‘re-location.’ The LA Rams are clearly winning the popularity contest in L-a-L-a-Land. They’ll be no fan base for the Chargers in LA. The rumor yesterday was that the Raiders will be ‘sharing’ StubHub with the Chargers the next two or three years as Oakland stadium deal has expired. What a ‘relocation’ mess the NFL has created! Buffalo to San Antonio up next.

  19. Ok so people complain about the browns record factoring in, the Bills have to play the Pats twice… rather take the free wins then have to play the Pats twice lol

  20. dirtdawg53 says:
    January 1, 2018 at 11:24 am
    Yes, the Ravens play the Browns twice a year. But they also had to play the 13-3 Steelers twice this year. They choked up a loss against them late in the season and let the Bungles drive 90 yards for the winning TD. No one feels sorry for them. They are out of the playoffs because they aren’t good enough. Not because of some tie breaker system.
    ———————————————–
    The tie breaker they lost out on is Strength of victory. They lost to the Steelers twice, so those don’t count. If they had won one and lost to the Browns, they would of got in.

  21. chawkup says:
    January 1, 2018 at 10:21 am
    The third tiebreaker should be record in past 5 games. I’d much rather see a hot team sneak into the playoffs.
    ———————————
    Right. So a game is more meaningful and counts more than a game in the first 10 weeks?
    So if this were the policy, the league office could schedule Green Bay to play the 5 worst teams at the end of the year.
    No thanks.
    The league already plays too many favorites as it is.

  22. If the Ravens had won just 4 more games, they would have been contending for a first round bye. The Patriots don’t want to see the Ravens — I tell you THAT. They’re shaking in their cleats at the mere mention of our name.

  23. From 1970 through 1977, head-to-head was applicable so long as every team involved in the tie had at least one opportunity to play one or more of the others. In this case, the Titans and Chargers went 1-0 among the four tied teams, the Ravens and Bills 0-1. Then the Titans would have gotten the first wild card for having a better conference record (8-4) than the Chargers (6-6). Then it would have been considered a three-way tie for the second wild card among the Bills, Ravens and Chargers – and since the Ravens played neither the Bills nor the Chargers, it would have gone to conference record, where the Chargers would have been eliminated with their 6-6 conference record, trailing Buffalo and Baltimore’s 7-5. Then it would have gone to strength of victory, the same as it actually did.

    The three-way tie for the top three seeds in the NFC in 2014, however, would have had a totally different outcome: The Cowboys, Seahawks and Packers all finished 12-4, and Dallas was 1-0 among the three tied teams, Seattle was 1-1, and Green Bay was 0-1 – meaning that by all right Dallas should have gotten the 1 seed, Seattle the 2 seed, and Green Bay the 3 seed. Instead, Seattle got the 1 seed, Green Bay the 2 seed, and Dallas the 3 seed, based on conference record (Seattle 10-2, Green Bay 9-3, Dallas 8-4).

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