Hypothetical NFL playoff question

First, I realize that the odds against the following scenario happening are astronomical. But I’m still curious.

Parity. Imagine that one season, the teams were all so even that every single team in the NFL finished the regular season with record of 8-8.

Not only that, but each team won all of their home games and lost all of their road games. 8-0 at home and 0-8 on the road. This obviously means that within each division, every team has a 1-1 record against each other team in the same division.

Each team also has an even record against non-division opponents in the same conference, as well as an even record against non-conference opponents.

In other words, every team in the league is even in all win-loss comparisons. Simple win-loss comparisons are a wash.

My question is this: Who goes to the playoffs? I have to assume that the NFL rules have a system in place to use factors other than win-loss records to determine playoff spots.

Record agains common opponents. And eventually, I think points scored comes into play.

Look here.

All else being equal, it will come down to a coin toss.

It would be decided within each division. These are the tiebreakers

  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.

This scenerio actually happens alot when deciding between 2 clubs in the real world, doesn’t need to be whole league.

Anyway, lot depends on who beat who – i.e. if your 8 wins/losses are w/i the divison against common teams (number 3).

in the spirit of teh OP tho, lets say that that was equal as well. It would go to strength of victory, then points allowed/scored, then 9-11 above

on preview: d^mn you swansont for simplfiing into 1 para what I took a 1/2 page to say

#4 from jimmmy is going to come into play in your situation. I don’t think that all teams play the same number of home games against teams within the conference.


No … actually, all NFL teams play 6 home games against conference opponents (3 in-division, 3 out-of-division), and 2 home games against non-conference opponents.

The same is also true of road games.

With since net points and net touchdowns are used as tiebreakers, the coin toss option exists only if two teams won and lost all 16 of their games by identical scores in identical fashions (same number of TDs, FGs, PATs, safeties) against teams that had the corresponding rank in the schedule and similar records.

It would be a real longshot.

oops. Sorry for posting off the top of my head.


Originally by BobT

As opposed to the original OP which had all teams finishing 8-8 with identical win-loss comparisons?

I thought the point of the question, eventually, would come down to what happens if all else is tied as well. That is why I pointed out the coin toss as the final arbiter.

It would come down to some sort of points scored elimination. EVerything else above that in the tiebreakers would be even. And if all else fails, it goes to a coin flip, though I don’t know if more that two teams are tied how they would do a coin flip. (In other words, if three teams are all tied at the end, who flips against who? Someone has to go twice. Do you…flip a coin to see who?)

      EXTREMELY unlikely that it would come down to a coin flip.  WOuld have to have almost exact same scores in all common games.  With four teams per division and league parity, though, its not complely out of the question that four teams finish 8-8.  Its not likely, but if you play enough years I give it an outside shot of happening sometime.  However, it would be pretty unlikely that the division, conference, etc. records would all be identical down the line.

Thanks for the answers, everyone. Sounds like point comparison is the answer :slight_smile: