There are errors on the NFL.COM NFL Tie-breaking web site, and other web sites which picked up on the official NFL tie-breaking procedures. The page is at
This article first appeared in The Sports Bar interactive Sports Newsletter, the longest-running and oldest hobbyist sports newsletter on the Internet. It has been written and edited for 1443 consecutive weeks (27 years) by Brian Youngerman of Mount Joy, PA.
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I and my 11-year-old son are in the middle of our quest to visit all NFL stadia. We have seen games in 8 NFL stadia in the past 3 years.
We talk and play football every day. We have played "a football catch" every day for 554 consecutive days and counting.
We also talk NFL tie-breakers and have been finding errors on the NFL Tie-Breaking website and other sites. Ryan and I found several errors on these Internet sites regarding the NFL tie-breaking procedures, including:
These pages state under the section to break a tie among "Three or More Clubs":
>>> "To Break A Tie For The Wild-Card Team: If it is necessary to break ties to determine the two Wild-Card clubs from each conference, the following steps will be taken."
THIS IS WRONG. There are three wild card teams, not two, as stated by the NFL, ESPN, etc. on the above links.
Another error under the section "Three or More Clubs":
>>> "...of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants."
THIS IS WRONG. There are now three, not two, Wild-Card participants.
Also, a confusing reference is made by the NFL:
>>> When the first Wild-Card team has been identified, the procedure is repeated to name the second Wild-Card,
You can't really stop here and say "the second Wild-Card," because there are actually THREE Wild-Cards. When you say "The second Wild-Card" you suggest there are only two wild cards.
The NFL tie-breaker page makes several references to the "the second Wild-Card," or "the two Wild-Cards," but not a single reference to "the third Wild-Card" nor "three Wild-Cards."
We assume that the actual tie-breaking procedures are correct, but I have questions about this reference:
>>> When the first Wild-Card team has been identified, the procedure is repeated to name the second Wild-Card, i.e., eliminate all but the highest-ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2.
Again, "the second Wild-Card" is referenced, but do we proceed the same way for the third unmentioned Wild-Card? It would help if the NFL explained this step in full detail.
So the errors found by myself and my son is not to say that the tie-breaking procedure itself is wrong.
The NFL also has errors in your section devoted to the "NFL Tie-Breaking Procedure For Selection Meeting":
>>> Clubs not participating in the playoffs shall select in the first through 20th positions in reverse standings order.
THIS IS WRONG.
The NFL page should state "first through 18th" positions since you moved to 14 playoff teams, not 12.
And this is wrong from the same section on the NFL draft tiebreakers:
>>> The losers of the Wild Card games shall select 21st through 24th based on won-lost-tied percentage
THIS IS WRONG.
This section should state that under the new 3-team Wild Card rules first used last year, Actually, losers of the Wild Card games shall select 19th through 24th.
This is not the first time The Sports Bar Newsletter found errors and ommissions in the NFL tiebreaking references. In 2002, when the Houston Texans joined the league and the NFL moved from 3 divisions/3 Wild Cards to 4 divisions/2 Wild Cards, the NFL failed to update references to the correct number of Wild-Cards for more than a year.
We hope the NFL and other sites which mirror the NFL tie-breaking will correct the tie-breaking pages and clarify that the procedures apply to all Wild-Cards.
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