The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are on a collision course to settle the AFC North crown on Christmas Day in two weeks. However, if you look at the standings now, they are both tied at 7-5. The Ravens hold the tie breaker, which has them in first, but it got me thinking about the tie-breaker procedures.
What if the Steelers and Ravens were both tied when all is said and done? Who would be crowned the AFC North Champion, and who would be praying for a Wild Card spot?
To answer that question, take a look at the divisional tiebreaking procedures, courtesy of NFL.com:
- Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
- Strength of victory.
- Strength of schedule.
- Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Best net points in common games.
- Best net points in all games.
- Best net touchdowns in all games.
- Coin toss
Knowing the procedures, let’s analyze just where the two teams sit currently, heading into Week 14.
- The Ravens hold the head-to-head win over the Steelers, but the game on Christmas Day very well could change all of that. However, if the Steelers lose the Week 16 game, the tie-breaker would go to Baltimore.
- Assuming the Steelers still win in Week 16, and the two teams are tied after Week 17, the next tie-breaker is division record. The Ravens have a 4-0 AFC North record, while the Steelers only a 2-1 record. If Pittsburgh wins their AFC North games (3 in total) in the final quarter of the season, they would finish with a 5-1 record, and the Ravens would also finish 5-1, assuming they beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.
- That would send it to the next tie-breaker. Common games. The AFC North was paired with the NFC and AFC East divisions this year. Time to take a look at who has done the best against these like opponents.
BAL vs. BUF - Win
PIT vs. BUF - Week 14 matchup
BAL vs. CLE - Win (2 x’s)
PIT vs. CLE - Win (Week 17 matchup)
BAL vs. WAS - Loss
PIT vs. WAS - Win
BAL vs. NYG - Loss
PIT vs. NYG - Win
BAL vs. NYJ - Loss
PIT vs. NYJ - Win
BAL vs. DAL - Loss
PIT vs. DAL - Loss
BAL vs. PHI - Week 15 matchup
PIT vs. PHI - Loss
BAL vs. NE - Week 14 matchup
PIT vs. NE - Loss
BAL vs. MIA - Win
PIT vs. MIA - Loss
BAL vs. CIN - Win (1 x - Week 17 matchup)
PIT vs. CIN - Win (1 x - Week 15 matchup)
The win/loss totals won’t be decided until the regular season matchups are complete, but heading into Week 14 the Steelers hold a two-game advantage over like opponents, but a lot can change in the coming weeks.
- If they would be tied at this point, it could come down to conference record. Baltimore currently holds the edge with a 7-2 conference mark, while the Steelers have a 5-3 record against AFC competition.
What is the underlying message in all of this? You hope the Steelers win the rest of their games, so it doesn’t come down to these tiebreaking procedures, but if there is one thing for certain, things could get mighty sticky if the division will come down to some of the above criteria.