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How do ties work in the NFL standings? Explaining tiebreaker rules for the 2022 playoff picture

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The NFL playoff race is starting to heat up as the 2022 regular season winds down. Fans are now starting to crunch the numbers to see exactly what their favorite teams have to do to make the postseason and vie for a Super Bowl victory.

That’s not always easy to do. Since there are so few games on the NFL calendar, many teams end up with the same record. The NFL’s tiebreaker procedures are complex as a result, especially when more than two teams finish with the same record.

And if teams who have tied games in the season are involved in the postseason race? That adds another layer to the confusion.

The 2022 NFL postseason race will include teams that have the same record and at least two teams with a tie in their records.

So, how do the NFL standings work with regard to ties and tiebreakers? Here’s what to know about the tiebreaking procedure in the NFL playoff picture.

MORE: Updated standings, NFL playoff picture for Week 15

How are ties counted in the NFL standings?

When it comes to the NFL standings, ties are counted fairly simply. They are counted as half a win and half a loss on a team’s record.

For example: The Commanders and Giants each entered Week 15 with identical records of 7-5-1. That put them ahead of the Seahawks, who entered the week with a 7-6 record, in the standings because their respective records were technically 7.5-5.5.

So New York and Washington both held a half-game lead on Seattle. And since the Seahawks lost to the 49ers in Week 15, the loser of the Giants vs. Commanders game Sunday night will still hold a half-game lead over the Seahawks in the standings.

And if the two teams somehow tie for a second time and have a record of 7-5-2, they would have the equivalent of an 8-6 record.

MORE: How NFL playoffs will work in 2022-23, from byes to seeding to format

NFL tiebreaker rules 2022

The NFL has a detailed way of breaking ties in both the division and wild-card races. Below is a breakdown of how the procedures will work this season, per the official NFL rulebook.

NFL division tiebreaker rules

If two teams are tied for the top spot in a division, the NFL uses the following tiebreakers in order to determine the winner.

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs)
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference
  5. Strength of victory
  6. Strength of schedule
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
  9. Best net points in common games
  10. Best net points in all games
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games
  12. Coin toss

And if three or more teams are tied, this is how the NFL breaks the tie.

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs)
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference
  5. Strength of victory
  6. Strength of schedule
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
  9. Best net points in common games
  10. Best net points in all games
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games
  12. Coin toss

MORE: Explaining how the NFL’s 17-game schedule works

NFL wild-card tiebreaker rules

The NFL’s wild-card tiebreakers are slightly different than their divisional tiebreakers. Below is a look at their way to break ties between two teams in the wild-card race.

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four
  4. Strength of victory
  5. Strength of schedule
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
  8. Best net points in conference games
  9. Best net points in all games
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games
  11. Coin toss

And here’s a look at the three-plus-team tiebreakers in the NFL wild-card race.

  1. Apply the division tiebreaker to eliminate all but the highest-ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tiebreaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two wild card participants.
  2. Head-to-head sweep (applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others)
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four
  5. Strength of victory
  6. Strength of schedule
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed
  9. Best net points in conference games
  10. Best net points in all games
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games
  12. Coin toss


Credit: sportingnews.com

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