Note From Tim: The following is entirely the effort of JMay. I do not have the intelligence or patience to do the yeoman work he's done here. Enjoy.
So, everyone keeps saying the Texans will lose in most tie-breaker scenarios. I decided to do the math. Keep in mind that this all assumes we win both remaining games, because otherwise this is an exercise in futility. So, tack on another loss for New England and Miami in conference play. While I did not add this into their overall record, I did on their conference record (right column) to help clarify tie-breakers. I also assumed the 7-7 teams won out when tallying their conference record, as that's the only way they're relevant (see Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Jacksonville). In parentheses, I first say what decided the head to head and then comment on what their conference record (tie-breaker after head-to-head and also most common three way tie-breaker) would be if their overall record was 9-7. Here are the tie-breaking procedures.
In three or more way ties, it's pretty much conference record, unless two teams in the same division are involved and then division tie-breakers (head-to-head, division record) knock the lesser team out.
Here's how we are head-to-head against teams still in it:
TEAM: Denver (8-6) @ Phil, KC. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: Most likely DENVER. (6-5 Conference Record, probably 7-5). Unless they lose to KC, in which case, TOSS UP (tie-breaker goes to Strength of Victory, and Denver's 56; would go to 66 with victory over Philadelphia. Houston's is 63. But these numbers will change slightly with two more games).
TEAM: Miami (7-7) Hou, Pitt. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: HOU (they're out of it if we're in it)
TEAM: Baltimore (8-6) @ Pitt, @ Oakland. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: BALT (Conference record is 6-4; if they're involved in a three-team tie, they would have to win another conference game and thus win the tie-breaker vs. Texans).
TEAM: NY Jets (
8-6 7-7) @ Indianapolis, Cincinnati. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: JETS (Head to Head) (5-5; 9-7 record would mean another conference win and another loss so a push with Texans in this regard).
Addendum via JMay, with a tip o' the cap to Patray10: For some reason, I originally the Jets at 8-6. They're really 7-7. So, now, New England cannot lose the division in a scenario where we are still involved (NE tie-breaker over Jets; Miami tie-breaker over NE, but would have to lose to us in our scenario). However, that means the Jets only need to lose once to be get knocked out of it, whereas I was thinking one loss and they were 9-7 and in tie breaking scenarios. With their schedule, I like this scenario a lot better, since of course we need the Pats to beat the Jags.
TEAM: Jacksonville (7-7) @ NE, @ Cleveland. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: JACK (Head to Head, as conference doesn't matter since they'd knock Texans out by virtue of division tie-breaker).
TEAM: Tennessee (7-7) San Diego, @ Seattle. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: TENN (Division record; see Jacksonville).
TEAM: Pittsburgh (7-7) Baltimore, @ Miami. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: HOU (common opponents; 6-6 if win out).
TEAM: HOUSTON (7-7/6-6, with a strength of victory of 63)
If they self-destruct:
TEAM: Cincinnati (9-5) KC, @ Jets. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: HOU (Head to Head, 6-6 if lose two.
TEAM: New England (9-5) Jacksonville, @ Hou. HEAD TO HEAD VS. TEXANS: HOU (Head to Head, 6-6 if lose two).
In a tie between three or more teams:
First, teams that own a division tie-breaker over another and therefore would kick the other out of the race:
Miami over Jets (doesn't matter).
Jacksonville and Tennessee over Houston (that hurt to write).
Here's how we fare against teams if there's a tie between three or more teams:
The only teams that at 9-7 wouldn't be in the 6-6 conference record traffic jam are the Ravens, who at 7-5 would win the tie-breaker, and Denver, who with a should-be-easy victory over KC would also be 7-5. So, the Jets, Steelers, and Patriots are the main teams that are left to examine in a three-way tie (the Broncos or Bengals would have to lose to Kansas City to be in the discussion). We go to best percentage in common opponents.
Actually, first, if the Jets and Pats tie, the Pats have the better record and win the division. And Cincy has the tie-breaker over the Steelers, so CIN would advance over them in any tie (for division or if Baltimore wins the division and it's for the Wild Card). Note: I assume that common opponent means that all three teams played said team. I have no idea if this is right but couldn't find any more info.
Pats, Steelers, Texans tie: Not 4 common opponents. Dammit. To the next tie-breaker--strength of victory. Keep in mind, these will change moderately in the final two weeks as teams win more games. Still, we can get a good gauge. As of now, the Texans' defeats have a total of 63 victories (assuming Houston victories in the two remaining games. As of now, it's 47). The Pats have 53 and would not add significantly because they would need two losses to go 9-7. The Steelers have 51 now but with a 9-7 record would have 66. So, it would be a close race between us and Pittsburgh. TOSS UP(Steelers/Texans).
Bengals, Patriots, Texans tie: Actually in this one, it's not conference record. By virtue of beating both of them, we would go. So, we have the tie-breaker in one of the least likely scenarios! Tie-breaker: TEXANS.
Jets, Bengals, Texans tie: Cincy would have to lose to the Jets to go 9-7. So, the Jets would have us both beat. Tie-breaker: JETS.
I'm not going to get into permutations involving Denver losing to KC because it adds a fourth team and much confusion. Maybe I will go down that road if it needs to be done next week. Denver most likely beats the Texans in any tie-breaker, unless their one loss comes against
Cleveland KC and their conference record drops to 6-6. For now, I'll just look at Denver's common opponents against Houston (not definitive because it depends on the third team's common opponents):
Common Opponents: Cincy, Oak, Ind, NE. Both teams are 3-2. With only 5 common teams, it's most likely adding a third team would result in not enough common opponents (minimum is 4), so it would go to strength of victory. As previously noted, Denver has a slight but surmountable advantage here.
1. Jacksonville loses one game (while I once thought of this as a must, Denver's loss to the Raiders (?!?) opens things up. A BIT). Luckily, they have New England left on their schedule.
2. Tennessee loses one. At this point, this is equally as important as Jacksonville losing. Luckily, they have San Diego.
3. Baltimore loses two. See note on Jacksonville. Losing to Oakland isn't really realistic, except that they have the dreaded West Coast travel issue (see Texans last year and empty gamblers' pockets from coast to coast).
HOPEFULLY, all of the above happen. If so, see section 1. If two of the above happen, see section 2 (this feels like a choose your own adventure book). If one or less happens, I recommend Jager but will still vouch for Kubiak (again, the Jager). So:
(1) Jets lose to Indy and Cincy. If they lose one, you need Pitt to win out (we win tie-breaker in PITT/NY/HOU tie). If neither happens, go to 1b.
(1b) If Pats beat Jacksonville, you need Denver to lose two (then we're in). If they beat Philly but lose to KC, we have a toss-up (Strength of Victory). If Denver beats KC and the Patriots lose to Jacksonville, but Jacksonville loses at Cleveland, and Pittsburgh loses one game, we're in (Head to Head over NE). If the above happens but Pitt wins both, we have a toss-up between Pitt and Houston (SOV). If Denver beats KC and Pats beat Jacksonville, we're out.
(2a) If Tennessee or Jacksonville win out and are tied with us (both win out and we're done), Denver has to lose out. And either Baltimore or Cincy has to lose two (Balt has Oak, Cincy has KC). And either the Jets have to lose one or more (Texans have head to head and three-way tie with Jets/Steelers) or if they don't, the Pats have to lose both (the Texans have H2H over Pats, but in a three-way tie with Steelers, it's a Texans/Steelers toss up). Or, of course, one of those wins and the Steelers lose.
Addendum: It has been brought to my attention that the Titans have a 5-7 conference record (if they finish 9-7). So, they could not win a three way tie-breaker with another team. Thus, in a massive tie-breaker scenario involving them and us and two other teams and two available spots, we both would lose the first spot. Then, Tennessee would be above us for the last spot. So, the only scenario where both the Tits and Texans get in is both of them finish at 9-7 and everyone else at 8-8. The Jags, however, would have a great 8-4 conference record (if they win out) and would win ANY multiple team tie-breaker. So, in the above scenario with the Jags 9-7 instead of the Tits, they would take the first spot. The slate then gets wiped clean and our losses to them are out the window, so we would have a chance in the tie-breaker for the last spot.
(2b) If both Tenn and Jack lose a game (again, Jacksonville has New England, Tennessee has San Diego), but Baltimore wins a game, things are murkier and the permutations more complicated. But, in general, we need two of the following three:
a. Denver to lose out or at least to KC.
b. Baltimore to win both and Cincy to lose both (Cincy would lose head to head to us).
c. Jets to lose both or New England to lose to Jacksonville (and Jack still to lose at Cleveland).
If the Jets win out, we want Pitt to win out. If two of the above three happen, we would still own the two=way tie-breaker over them (common opponents) but if only one of three happen and Pitt wins, we would get a three way tie win over Pitt/Jets.
What we learned:
The Texans aren't losers in all tie-breakers or even most. They're in fact pretty close to middle of the pack.
In head-to-head, we win against Pitt, Cincy, and New England and lose against Balt, Jets, Jack, and Tenn. Denver most likely would have it, unless they lose to KC, in which case, they have a slight advantage but could easily lose it (SOV 66-63).
The problem is the scenarios they are losers in are the more likely ones. At least as far as Baltimore is concerned.
Because of Denver's loss, if Jacksonville or Tennessee end up 9-7, we're not COMPLETELY out of it. But we would need an implosion by Cincy or Baltimore (two losses) and also Denver, who would just have to lose one, but to KC (conference record tie-breaker).
Speaking of Denver, their loss to Oakland only helps if they lose that game to KC. Baltimore needs to either lose both or win both. We hold no tie-breaker against them, but Cincy holds all tie-breakers against them. And we hold it against Cincy. So Cincy will win the division unless they lose both and Baltimore wins both. In which case, we get a tie-breaker over Cincy.
Root hard for Tennessee and Jacksonville to lose one and Baltimore and the Jets to lose two.
All of these things don't have to happen, but we want:
Denver to lose out.
Baltimore to lose out.
Jets to lose out, or maybe beat Cincy if Cincy somehow loses to KC.
Jacksonville to lose one.
Tennessee to lose one.
Pittsburgh to win out if Jets win out; otherwise, beat Baltimore and lose to Miami.
Cincy to lose out. But if they beat KC, then beat the Jets.
New England to beat Jacksonville and obviously lose to us.
There you go. That was easy, wasn't it? About as easy as it will be to sneak into this thing. I'm sure I made a mistake or was overly confusing at some point, so feel free to point out errors or ask questions.