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NFL playoff tiebreaking procedure for division champions, wild card teams

We’ve got a rundown of how the NFL determines standings when there are ties.

General overall view as New England Patriots hold the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL into December and the playoffs right around the corner, there may be tiebreaking scenarios that arise when it comes to crowning a division champion and the two wild card spots in the NFC and AFC. Below we’ve got a full list of all the pertinent tiebreakers to highlight how seeding will be decided for the 2020 NFL playoffs.

Seeding

This is how the six playoff teams in each conference will be seed:

  1. Division champion with best record
  2. Division champion with second-best record
  3. Division champion with third-best record
  4. Division champion with fourth-best record
  5. Wild card with best record
  6. Wild card with second-best record

How to break a tie within Division

  1. Head-to-head (best win-loss record percentage in games against that team)
  2. Best win-loss record percentage against division opponents.
  3. Best win-loss record percentage in common games.
  4. Best win-loss record percentage in conference games.
  5. Strength of wins
  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
  12. Coin toss

Note: A similar procedure takes place in three or more teams are involved in the tiebreaker until a team/teams are eliminated.

How to break a tie for Wild-Card teams

If the two teams are from the same division, you can apply the steps listed above. If not, here’s how it shakes out.

  1. Head-to-head (if applicable)
  2. Best win-loss percentage within conference games
  3. Best win-loss percentage in common games (minimum of four)
  4. strength of wins
  5. strength of schedule
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in both points scored and points allowed
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in both points scored and points allowed
  8. Best net points in conference games
  9. Best net points in all games
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games
  11. Coin toss

All of this information and other tiebreaking procedures can be found at this link.