Monday, December 29, 2008

More Football Thoughts: A Brief Note On Tiebreakers

For those of you who were curious, the reason the Patriots lost out on the division to the Dolphins was because of tie-breakers, in this case, conference record, which is actually the fourth tie-breaker. The two teams split their season series and finished 4-2 in the division. The third tie-breaker is common games, in which both the Pats and the Dolphins both finished 11-3. In fact, the Pats and Dolphins had remarkably similar seasons, both sweeping the Bills and splitting with the Jets, losing to AFC North and AFC South opponents (Baltimore and Houston for Miami, Indy and Pittsburgh for New England), and earning victories againast Denver, Oakland, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, and St. Louis. The difference for the Pats and Dolphins were the Cardinals and the Chargers. The Patriots annihilated the Cardinals in the snow in Foxboro, while the Dolphins went and got blown out in the desert early in the season. But while Miami got the Chargers at home, winning a close game, the Patriots traveled to San Diego as the second game of a west coast leg, and were soundly beaten.

And while I see the value in tiebreakers, if you had to make an NCAA tournament-like human judgment, I find it hard to believe that the Dolphins would get picked over the Pats. Looking at the differences, they both got blown out on the road, but the Pats played the better game at home. Plus, the Pats had a slightly harder schedule, they won the second matchup between the two teams, and they faced two multi-game west coast trips, while the Dolphins had all those same west coast teams coming to play them.

Not a complaint, really. It's just a matter of finding something to talk about other than the playoffs.


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