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I was very surprised to see today on nfl.com/standings/ that Dolphins are ranked before the Bills in AFC East, despite:

  • Both teams being 2-0-0
  • Bills having +55 Net Pts vs. Dolphins +17
  • They have not faced each other yet, so direct points are evened out

Are the Points scored/Points allowed really worth nothing in the ratings?

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  • 1
    If this is a question about how NFL does tiebreakers, there is already an existing duplicate target. The same process follows pretty much entirely regardless of how much season is done.
    – Nij
    2 days ago
  • @Nij That isn't quite the right dupe as it's for teams in the same conference but not the same division.
    – Philip Kendall
    yesterday

1 Answer 1

1

The NFL's tiebreakers for two clubs in the same division are as follows:

  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 in all games.
  6. Strength of schedule in all games
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

As you note, (1) does not currently apply because the Bills and Dolphins have not yet played this year. The same would apply to (3) and (9) as the Bills and Dolphins have no common games yet this year.

For (2), the Dolphins have played one game in the division (beating the Patriots) while the Bills have not played any games in the division. The NFL rulebook does not define how to order "100%" against "undefined" but that's because it doesn't need to: the only time the tiebreakers actually matter are after the last game of the regular season, by which point both teams will have played 6 games in their division. However, a reasonable case can be made that 1-0 is "better" than 0-0, so it is possible the standings are using that as a tiebreaker even though it isn't formally defined.

The same analysis as above applies to (4), where the Bills are 2-0 in the conference and the Dolphins 1-0.

After that, it's possible that one or more of criteria (5) to (8) apply; I haven't done the analysis because it would be fairly tedious.

If after all that the tie was still not broken at the end of the season, net points (10) would apply.

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