December 17, 2002

Are you ready for some tie-breakers?:
(imagine that sung by Hank Williams Jr.)
It's probably not going to happen, but there is the possibility of an 11-way tie for 1st place in the AFC. Is this parity IN sports or parody OF sports?

posted by grum@work to football at 04:03 PM - 9 comments

I really wish ESPN carried it a bit further and then told us what the tie-breaker scenarios would be (who would win because of what) or at least what the tie-breakers are in such an occurrance. Is it division record to first decide the division leaders, then the conference record to decide wild-card spots? So could it be possible that a team might get a division-winning playoff spot but have a worse conference record than a team that doesn't even make the playoffs, even though they have the same overall record? That would be a hard one to explain to the fans...

posted by grum@work at 04:08 PM on December 17, 2002

If teams are tied on their win record, why wouldn't the tie breakers be decided on point difference (points scored minus points given up), followed by points scored? In soccer, points are awarded for wins (3 per win) and draws (one per draw). Tie-breakers are as follows: 1. If teams are tied on points, their positions are decided on goal difference (goals scored minus goals allowed) 2. If teams are tied on both points and goal difference, then the next tie-breaker is goals scored. 3. If teams are still tied on points, goal difference and goals scored, then (I think) they'll look at just the two games between those teams that season -- teams play each other twice (home and away) every season -- and see who came out tops there (who scored more, who won away). At some point, it ends up as a coin toss (this has happened in the World Cup, where groups are usu. made up of four teams, and everyone only plays each other once).

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:22 PM on December 17, 2002

wc2k2: The NFL likes to use divisional and conference records to decide things first before getting to the pf/pa thing and then finally the coin toss. Here are the full rules for deciding tie-breakers. I would love to see the surreal moment where the commissioner is televised flipping coins for 10 minutes straight... "And this is to decide the 4th playoff spot..."

posted by grum@work at 06:06 PM on December 17, 2002

The thing that's the most interesting to me is that the AFC is so close, and the NFC is not. I wonder if the fact that the AFC seems more competitive has something to do with the NFC's dominance in the Super Bowl? Certainly it seems to have an effect on the perception of the representatives from the two conferences: if a team goes in with a gaudy W-L record, it is likely to be favored, notwithstanding the quality of the teams against whom the record was achieved. Who would you rather see your team play in the playoffs: KC, which has scored more points than any other team in the league, or the Philadelphia Eagals, who have rolled up a pretty record against the likes of the Cowboys, Giants, and Cardinals?

posted by outside counsel at 03:53 PM on December 18, 2002

If the NFC is so dominant, why not make a two-tier system, such that you have the NFC with 16 top teams (SuperLeague) and AFC with the other 16 teams (AverageLeague). Then, everybody plays everybody once in their respective leagues (computer evens out the home/away games - some people will get the shaft, whatever. The current dissimilar playing schedules are no better. At least, this way, in the regular season, everybody plays everybody in the same conference). So, now they have a regular-season schedule of 15 games. At the end of the regular season, the top 4 AverageLeague teams get promoted to the SuperLeague, where they'll play the next season. The bottom 4 SuperLeague teams get relegated to the AverageLeague. In the post-season, the top 4 teams from both leagues enter the playoffs to get to the SuperBowl. You can randomly draw them at the end of the season, or you can just pre-determine the matchups based on end-of-season places (pref. with crossover games between leagues). So, no more Divisions, just two Conferences/Leagues, two Conference Champs, and the SuperBowl champions. But then again, I'm not sure if that would then cause financial inequities and problems like those seen in the MLB or in the Euro soccer leagues (teams on the brink of bankruptcy, talk of scrapping entire divisions, players taking salary caps, etc.) The NFL is a model of equitable distribution, at least in terms of money sharing and draft picks.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:26 PM on December 18, 2002

Speaking as a Bengals fan, I would very much like the NFL to have promotion and relegation. That way, the Bengals would suffer the relegation they so richly deserve.

posted by salmacis at 09:44 AM on December 19, 2002

I wonder, how much longer the Bengals will have to play at this level before the league steps in? A while, I suppose-- Arizona is nearly as bad. As appealing as the promotion/religation model is, it seems to me that it is better suited to baseball. The NFL's parity scheme works well for a league where revenues are so evenly shared. Speaking strictly as a Bills fan, I love it that the team I follow is still in the hunt, however unlikely it is that they will beat Green Bay Sunday, and whatever all else needs to occur.

posted by outside counsel at 03:23 PM on December 19, 2002

There is no real precedent in the big 4 North American leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) to take over a team (or request a new ownership) because of poor ability. Sure they take over teams that are struggling financially (Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Expos come to mind) but none that just plain suck. The Ottawa Senators (in the early 90's) really sucked and no one did anything. They have since recovered and are a good team. The Toronto Blue Jays were the worst expansion team in history, and they eventually won the World Series (twice!). The Los Angeles Clippers have been futile for decades That said, the NFL is the easiest league to get back on your feet with the salary cap, free agent system and revenue sharing. You have to remember that the Rams were just BRUTAL for years before they got real good.

posted by grum@work at 04:25 PM on December 19, 2002

When it comes to futility in American Sports, I usually think of the NFL's Cardinals. Not always the worst in the league, but *never* any good. At least I've watched the Bengals in the Superbowl. As grum says, the parity in the NFL means that no team should be consistently bad for so long. I don't know how the Cardinals do it.

posted by salmacis at 05:16 AM on December 20, 2002

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