A Look at How The NFL Would Untangle This Impossible Situation

Published on June 24th, 2023 6:25 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

Resolving a perfect 32-team tie in NFL football. Let's take a look at a scenario that would certainly never happen:

All 32 NFL teams finish with 17 ties on the season. All 32 NFL teams score 17 points per game, while giving up 17 points per game.

How would the NFL ever determine who would qualify for the playoffs if all 32 teams finished with identical 0-0-17 records, and all 32 teams had identifical Points For and Points Against totals?

It's an interesting exercise to see what the NFL would do in this situation.

The answer: they'd flip a coin to see who got into the playoffs.


In the event of ties involving three or more NFL teams, the NFL has a 12-step process to determine who gets into the playoffs or secures a higher seeding.

Here are the steps:

1. Head-to-head.

2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in division games.

3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in "common" games.

4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in conference games.

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.


So, as you can see, if all 32 teams tied 17 times and all 17 of those games finished with 17-17 scores, the 32 teams would still be tied after 11 steps.

What would happen now?

The answer - a coin toss.


In the case of a perfectly identical 32-team tie, the NFL would utilize a long series of coin flips to determine who would go to the playoffs, and what the seedings of those teams would be.

The coin flip is the ultimate tie-breaker when it comes to the NFL.

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