The following procedures are used to break ties in the standings for playoff seeds and in determining the order of teams in the annual draft.

For playoff seedings, all teams are seeded 1-4 within their divisions before the conference seeds are determined. Any ties in the standings within a division must be resolved first before proceeding to the conference seeds.

In the tiebreakers below, the win-loss record in all situations is the win percentage of the games under consideration, with ties counting as a half-win. It is possible that the number of games being considered in a tiebreaker step are not equal for the tied teams, so win percentage is used. Strength of victory and strength of schedule are the aggregate W-L records of all the teams beat and played, respectively. If an opponent was beat or played twice, that W-L is counted twice.

For any step that has the “sum of rankings,” add the 2 rankings in the applicable category, with the lowest number winning. A team that is first in points scored and third in points against will have a 4 for that tiebreaker step. In case of a ranking tie (for example: 2 teams with the same points against in conference games), both teams receive the same rank number.

Ties in division seeds

  1. W-L in head-to-head games
  2. W-L in division games
  3. W-L in common games
  4. Strength of victory
  5. Strength of schedule
  6. Sum of conference rankings in points scored + points against
  7. Sum of league rankings in points scored + points against
  8. Point differential in common games
  9. Point differential in all games
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games
  11. Coin toss

Ties in conference seeds

Before beginning the tiebreaker, eliminate all the intradivisional ties, so that there is not more than 1 team from any division. If there are only teams from the same division in the tiebreaker, then use the division tiebreaker.

  1. Head-to-head sweep (only if a team has won or lost all games against the teams in tiebreaker)
  2. W-L in conference games
  3. W-L in common games, minimum of four.
  4. Strength of victory
  5. Strength of schedule
  6. Sum of conference rankings in points scored + points against
  7. Sum of league rankings in points scored + points against
  8. Point differential in conference games
  9. Point differential in all games
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  11. Coin toss.

Special procedures for playoff seeds

  1. Conference seeds #1-4 will always be from separate divisions.
  2. If at any step a team is eliminated, return to Step 1 of the tiebreaker for the remaining teams.
  3. When a team has won tiebreakers in both in the division and the conference, the next seeded team from that division joins the next conference tiebreaker, unless it is for conference seedsΒ #1-4.

Draft order procedures and tiebreakers

The Super Bowl winner is 32, the Super Bowl loser is 31.

Next, group the teams that exited each round of the playoffs: losers of the Conference Championships (29, 30), Divisional Playoffs (25-28), and Wild Card games (21-24). Non-playoff teams are 1-20.

Within those groups, order teams based on W-L record in the regular season, with the better record getting the later pick. Teams in different groups with the same W-L record areΒ not tied. For example, the team with the highest record of Wild Card losers will be 24, even if it has a better record than a Divisional Playoff loser.

If there is a tie within a group (examples: 2 Wild Card losers with a 10-6 record, or 4 non-playoff teams with a 7-9 record), these tiebreaker steps are applied:

  1. First rank teams by strength of schedule, lowest percentage getting the earlier pick
  2. If any tied teams are in the same division, take the lower seeded team using division tiebreaker
  3. If any tied teams are in the same conference, take the lower seeded team using the conference tiebreaker
  4. Interconference ties that remain are broken by a new set of tiebreakers, with the lower draft seed going to:
    1. The team losing head-to-head, if applicable.
    2. Lower W-L in common games, minimum of four
    3. Lower strength of victory
    4. Lower sum of league rankings in points scored + points against
    5. Lesser point differential in all games.
    6. Lesser touchdown differential in all games.
    7. Successfully calling a coin flip

Return to Step 1 as long as teams remain in the same groupΒ and have the same win-loss record.

The draft position coin flip at the NFL Combine, is now a relic of history.

Note that the tiebreaker steps will not necessarily match the division and conference seeds from the previous season, as the tiebreaker willΒ only include teams tied after the strength of schedule step.

Teams that are involved in a tiebreaker will cycle through the order each round, based on the tiebreaker order. Thus, in a 4-team tiebreaker, a team will rotate 1-4-3-2, the second team 2-1-4-3, the third 3-2-1-4, and the fourth 4-3-2-1.