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Old 09-17-2003, 02:22 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Replace Tie-Breakers With Playoff Games?

If you don't like the idea of an 18-game regular season, what about cutting two weeks from the preseason and using the weeks saved to hold games to break ties for playoff spots at the end of the regular season?

Two weeks would be added to the postseason - one in the week between the final week of the regular season and the wild card round, the other between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. If only one round of special playoff games is needed, the idle week before the wild-card games would be eliminated, and if two such rounds are needed, the open week before the Super Bowl is eliminated as well. (Additional games would be staged only to actually eliminate a team or teams from the 12-team playoff field; ties for seeding between teams qualifying for the playoffs would continue to be decided by the tie-breaking procedures currently in effect).

Examples of particular scenarios are listed below.

Scenario 1: Two teams tie for last wild card, or for division title and no wild-card spots open (at least 2 non-division winners in same conference have better records). The two teams simply play each other, with coin toss deciding home field (unless otherwise specified, a coin toss decides home field in all subsequent scenarios as well); winner advances to playoffs.

Scenario 2: Two teams tie for division title, and are also tied for last wild card with one other team. The two teams that tied for division title play each other, as in Scenario 1 above; winner advances as division champion. Loser then hosts the team in the other division (and has home site priority based on its finishing tied for first in its division versus other team's not finishing first), with winner there getting wild card.

Scenario 3: Three teams tie for last wild card, and two are from same division, finishing tied for second in that division. The two teams in the same division play each other first, then the winner plays on the road against the other team to decide the wild card (the latter gets home field because it finished in sole possession of second place while the other two teams tied for second). This scenario also applies in the unlikely but possible event that the two teams from the same division finished in a tie for third (the second-place team from that same division having earned the first wild card).

Scenario 4: Three teams tie for division title with no wild-card spots open, or for last wild card, all three are from different divisions, in which all three finished second. A draw is held to designate the three teams as A, B and C. In first game C plays at B; winner hosts A in second game (A plays on the road because it only needs to win one game to qualify while B and C each need to win two). Winner of second game is wild card.

Scenario 5: Three teams tie for last wild card, all three are from different divisions, with two teams having finished second in their division and the other finishing third; or two teams are tied for second place in the same division and the other finished third in another division. A coin toss is held between the two second-place teams; loser of the toss hosts the third-place team in the first game. If coin-toss loser wins, it hosts coin-toss winner in second game; if third-place team wins, it plays at coin-toss winner in second game. Winner of second game is wild card.

Scenario 6: Three teams tie for division title, one wild-card spot open. If one of the three teams is superior to both of the others individually under the tie-breaking procedures, that team is designated Team A and the tie-breaking procedures are applied again to determine Teams B and C; otherwise, a draw is held to determine the three designations. In the first game C plays at B. Winner gets one playoff spot, loser plays at A in second game (A gets home-site priority to compensate for the fact that it has only one opportunity to win its way into the playoffs while B and C each have two). Winner of second game gets other playoff spot. If loser of first game wins second game, winner of first game is division champion and winner of second game is wild card; if loser of first game also loses second game, the tie-breaking prcedures are applied to determine division champion and wild card as between first-game winner and second-game winner.

Scenario 7: Three-way tie for two wild cards, two teams from the same division. The team not in the same division as the others is designated A and the two teams in the same division draw for B and C. In Game 1, B plays at A, with winner getting one wild card. Loser of Game 1 then hosts C in Game 2 to determine other wild card (if B loses Game 1, it is entitled to home-site priority in Game 2 because it was on the road in Game 1; if A loses Game 1, it is entitled to home-site priority in Game 2 due to its having finished second by itself while B and C tied for second).

Scenario 8: Three-way tie for two wild cards, all three teams from different divisions. A draw is held to designate the three teams as A, B and C. In first game, C plays at B. Winner gets one wild card, loser plays at A in second game (A gets home-site priority to compensate for the fact that A has only one opportunity to win its way into the playoffs while B and C each have two). Winner of second game is other wild card.

Scenario 9: Two teams tie for division title, and also have same record as two teams tied for second place in another division or have same record as two second-place teams in different divisions, and one wild-card spot is open. The two teams that are tied for division title play each other in Game 1 and the other two teams meet in Game 2. Game 1 winner is division champion, then Game 1 loser hosts Game 2 winner in Game 3 the following week. Winner of Game 3 is wild card.

Scenario 10: Two teams tie for division title, and also have same record as two teams tied for second place in another division or have same record as two second-place teams in different divisions, and two wild-card spots are open. The two teams that are tied for division title play each other in Game 1 and the other two teams meet in Game 2. Game 1 winner is division champion, Game 2 winner is first wild card, and then Game 1 loser hosts Game 2 loser in Game 3 the following week. Winner of Game 3 is second wild card.

Scenario 11: Two teams tie for division title, and also have same record as a second-place team in one other division and a third-place team in still another division, and one wild-card spot is open. The two teams that are tied for the division title play each other in Game 1 and the second-place team hosts the third-place team in Game 2. Game 1 winner is division champion, then Game 1 loser hosts Game 2 winner in Game 3 the following week. Winner of Game 3 is wild card.

Scenario 12: Four-way tie for two wild-card spots, involving all four second-place teams. The four teams draw for designations A, B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B. Winners of these two games are the two wild cards.

Scenario 13: Four-way tie for two wild-card spots, two teams from the same division. The two teams that finished second by themselves in their respective divisions draw for designations A and B, the two teams that tied for second place in the same division draw for C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B. Winners of these two games are the two wild cards.

Scenario 14: Four-way tie for two wild-card spots, two teams from one division and the other two teams from another division. A draw is held to designate the four teams as A, B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B unless A and D (and B and C) are from the same division, in which case C plays at A and D plays at B. Winners of these two games are the two wild cards.

Scenario 15: Four-way tie for two wild-card spots, three teams from the same division. The team not involved in the three-way tie is designated A and the three teams in the same division draw for B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B. Winners of these two games are the wild cards.

Scenario 16: Four-way tie for last wild card among three second-place teams and one third-place team, or three teams tied for second place in the same division and a third-place team in another. The third-place team is designated D and the other three teams draw for A, B and C. Then D plays at A and C plays at B, with winners meeting the following week for the wild card. If D wins its first game, it is automatically on the road in the second game. If A and B meet in the second game, A is at home; if A and C meet, C is at home.

Scenario 17: Four-way tie for the last wild card, involving a second-place team from one division, two teams tied for second in another division, and the third-place team in the division from which the first wild card came. The team that finished second by itself is designated Team A, the third-place team D, and a coin toss is held to determine B and C as between the two teams in the same division that tied for second. Then C plays at A and D plays at B, with the winners meeting the following week for the wild card. If A wins its first game, it is automatically at home in the second; if D wins its first game, it is automatically on the road in the second; and if B and C meet in the second game, C is at home because it was on the road in the first game while B was at home in the first game.

Scenario 18: Four-way tie for the last wild card, involving two second-place teams in different divisions or two teams tied for second place in the same division, and two teams tied for third in the division from which the first wild card came. The two second-place teams draw for designations A and B, and the other two teams draw for designations C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B, with the winners meeting the following week for the wild card, the team with the higher letter designation having home site priority in the second week's game.

Scenario 19: Three-way tie for a division title, and the three teams are also tied with one other team, and one wild card spot open. The team not involved in the three-way tie is designated D and the provisions outlined in Scenario 6 are used to determine A, B and C among the three tied teams in the same division. D then plays at B and C plays at A. The winners of these two games advance to the playoffs. If D wins its game, it gets the wild card and the winner of the A-C game is division champion; if D loses, the tie-breaking procedures are applied to determine the division champion and wild card as between B and the A-C winner.

Scenario 20: Three-way tie for a division title, and the three teams are also tied with one other team, and two wild card spots open. The team not involved in the three-way tie is designated D and the provisions outlined in Scenario 6 are used to determine A, B and C among the three tied teams in the same division. D then plays at B and C plays at A. If D wins its game, D gets one wild card, the A-C winner is division champion, and the A-C loser plays B for the other wild card (if the latter game is between A and B, A is at home; if it is between B and C, C is at home). If D loses its game, B gets one playoff spot, the A-C winner gets the second, and one week later the A-C loser hosts D to decide the third and final playoff spot. The tie-breaking procedures are then applied to determine division champion and first wild card as between B and the A-C winner; the winner of the game between D and the A-C loser is the second wild card.

Scenario 21: Two teams tie for division titles in two different divisions, all four teams have the same record, and one wild card spot open. In each division, the two tied teams play each other. The winners are the division champions, the losers meet one week later for the wild card. A coin toss decides home field in both of the first week's games; if one loser in the first week played at home and the other away, the loser that played away in the first week hosts the second week's game; if both first-week losers played at home or both played away, a coin toss decides home field in the second week's game.

Scenario 22: Four-way tie for a division title, no wild card spots open. A draw is held to designate the four teams as A, B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B; winners meet the following week for division title. If one first-week winner played at home and the other away, the winner that played away in the first week hosts the second week's game; if both first-week winners played at home or both played away, the first-week winner with the higher letter designation hosts the second week's game.

Scenario 23: Four-way tie for a division title, one wild card spot open. A draw is held to designate the four teams as A, B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C play at B. The winners of these two games advance to the playoffs, with the tie-breaking procedures deciding which team is the division champion and which team is the wild card.

Scenario 24: Four-way tie for a division title, two wild card spots open. A draw is held to designate the four teams as A, B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B. The two winners advance to the playoffs, with the tie-breaking procedures deciding which one of them is the division champion; the other winner is the first wild card. The two losers then meet the following week to determine the second wild card. If one first-week loser played at home and the other away, the loser that played away in the first week hosts the second week's game; if both first-week losers played at home or both played away, the first-week loser with the higher letter designation hosts the second game.

Scenario 25: Three-way tie for division title, with the three teams also having the same record as two other teams, and one wild-card spot open. (Note: This scenario actually arose last year in the AFC): The provisions outlined in Scenario 6 are used to determine A, B and C among the three tied teams in the same division, and the other two teams draw for D and E (if one of the two other teams finished third in its division - the second-place team from that same division having earned the first wild card - the third-place team is automatically designated E). In the first game, E plays at D. One week later, the D-E winner plays at B and C plays at A, with the two second-week winners making the playoffs. If the D-E winner wins its second-week game, it is the wild card and the A-C winner is division champion; if the D-E winner loses in the second week, the tie-breaking procedures are applied to determine the division champion and the wild card as between B and the A-C winner.

Scenario 26: Two teams tie for division title, and are also tied with all three second-place teams in the other divisions, or with three teams that are tied for second place in the same division. The two teams tied for the division title play each other, a coin toss deciding home field. The winner is division champion, the loser becomes Team A in a four-team draw, with the other three teams drawing for B, C and D. Then D plays at A and C plays at B, with the two winners getting the wild cards.

Scenario 27: Two teams tie for division title, and are also tied with one second-place team in another division and two other teams tied for second place in a third division. The two teams tied for the division title play each other, a coin toss deciding home field. The winner is division champion, the loser becomes Team A in a four-team draw, with the team that finished second by itself being B and the two teams that tied for second in the same division drawing for C and D. Then D plays at A at C plays at B, with the two winners getting the wild cards.

Scenario 28: Five-way tie for two wild cards, two teams from the same division. The two teams from the same division draw for designations D and E, while the other three teams draw for A, B and C. Then E plays at D. One week later, the D-E winner plays at A and C plays at B, the winners of these two games getting the wild cards.

Scenario 29: Five-way tie for two wild cards, involving two pairs of teams tied for second place in their respective divisions plus one team that finished second by itself in a third division. The team finishing second by itself is Team A; simultaneous coin tosses are held between each pair of teams in the same division, with the winners of these coin tosses then facing off in a second coin toss to determine the identity of Teams B and C, and the losers of the first two coin tosses then facing off in a second coin toss to determine the identity of Teams D and E. Then E plays at D. One week later, the winner of the D-E game plays at A and C plays at B. The two winners of the second week's games are the wild cards.

Scenario 30: Five-way tie for two wild cards, involving three teams tied for second place in one division and two other teams finishing second by themselves in their respective divisions, or three teams tied for second place in one division and two teams tied for second place in another division. The three teams in the same division draw for C, D and E, and the other two teams draw for A and B. Then E plays at D. One week later, the winner of the D-E game plays at A and C plays at B. The two winners of the second week's games are the wild cards.

As far as I can determine, the scenarios listed above cover all cases where the ties could be broken with two rounds of special playoff games; any others (involving five or more teams) would require three rounds. In these cases, the first round would be held on the Friday following the end of the regular season, the second on the following Wednesday (five days later) and the third on the following Monday (five days after the second round). Exact details as to what these scenarios are will be posted on this thread as I figure them out.

Alternation rule: Whenever a coin toss is used to determine home-site priority in a tie-breaking playoff game, if and when those same two teams ever meet again in a tie-breaking playoff game and a coin toss would be needed to determine home-site priority in the subsequent instance also, the loser of the original coin toss shall automatically be awarded home-site priority in the subsequent instance. (Example: Dallas and Washington finish tied for first in NFC East in 2006, a one-game playoff is necessary, and Dallas wins the coin toss; then in 2009 the Cowboys and Redskins finish tied again and another coin toss would be necessary - in that case Washington shall automatically host the 2009 game). However, if home site priority was earned by one team due to a higher division finish (tied for first over second, second alone over tied for second, etc.) the alternation rule does not apply.
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Old 09-17-2003, 05:34 PM   #2
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Dude..........I have a headache
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Old 09-17-2003, 05:49 PM   #3
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Great post.
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Old 09-18-2003, 02:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by 5pts
Dude..........I have a headache

But didn't you have an even bigger headache last December if you're a Patriots, Dolphins or Broncos fan - because your team missed the playoffs despite finishing with the same record as the Jets and the Browns?
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Old 09-18-2003, 04:56 PM   #5
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No. I think this arbitrary tiebreaker thing bugs you WAAAAY more than the average member of the population of NFL viewers, Anthony.

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Old 09-18-2003, 05:17 PM   #6
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holy crap. i had to take a nap between scenario 17 and 18. then i had to eat a sandwich between 29 and 30, or i wouldn't have made it through.

but even with the overload of information, it was a very good post. although i was disappointed when scenerio 31 didn't make the list.

Scenerio 31: teams A and B square off in a 'Over-the-Top' Battle Royal. The winner of the Battle Royal will move ahead to take on team C in a "Survivor Series" match. The winning team from that match will then get to pick one participant to take on a participant from team D in a Steel Cage/Ladder match. Winner goes to the playoffs.
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Old 09-18-2003, 11:46 PM   #7
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lol i like the idea but WAHT DID YOU JUST SAY?!?!?!?
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Old 09-19-2003, 02:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Noon
holy crap. i had to take a nap between scenario 17 and 18. then i had to eat a sandwich between 29 and 30, or i wouldn't have made it through.

but even with the overload of information, it was a very good post. although i was disappointed when scenerio 31 didn't make the list.

Scenerio 31: teams A and B square off in a 'Over-the-Top' Battle Royal. The winner of the Battle Royal will move ahead to take on team C in a "Survivor Series" match. The winning team from that match will then get to pick one participant to take on a participant from team D in a Steel Cage/Ladder match. Winner goes to the playoffs.

Didn't they do that in the XFL?

And isn't there a limit as to how long one post can be on this board? If there is I'm surprised I didn't exceed it!

Well anyway, if the NFL was going to do something like this it would be necessary for them to spell out what would happen in every eventuality (and I'm sure even I missed a few). But I'm surprised no one "objected" to the fact that the 1 and 2 seeds could have as many as three weeks off after the end of the regular season before playing their first playoff games if two weeks' worth of tie-breaking playoff games were necessary in a given year. In such a circumstance, the tie-breaking games could be held say, five rather than seven days apart (at night and on prime time, which the networks would find totally awesome), and maybe the wild-card games moved a day or two in either direction, and the rough spots could be smoothed out that way, so to speak.

All this leads up to another one of my favorite arguments, and that concerns overtime in the regular season: If the NFL tweaked overtime so that just three or four games a year would end in a tie (simply shortening the overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes would do the trick), at least the wildest scenarios would almost certainly never arise (because the teams playing the tie games would finish either a half-game ahead of or a half-game behind other teams, instead of finishing with the same record).

But this is the second-best thing to do with the two weeks that should be cut from the preseason, of course - the 18-game regular season being the best solution.
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Old 09-19-2003, 03:32 PM   #9
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Anthony...

Why can't we just eliminate overtime all together, with games ending in ties at the end of the 4th quarter? Wouldn't that simple switch lead to a better tie breaker then " points scored in the conference" or whatever tie breakers are used now? With teams having more ties then now, it would work well. And in reality, I think it would force teams at the end of the year to take more risks for W's, knowing ties are hurting them, which will result in a W or L either way. Plus, it would liven up the NCFL...THE NATIONAL CONSERVATIVE FOOTBALL LEAGUE. I'm SOOOOO against more games it ain't funny.

Good post btw.
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Old 09-19-2003, 06:55 PM   #10
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I just wanna know how long did you think about this?
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Old 09-20-2003, 03:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by buckeyefan78
Anthony...

Why can't we just eliminate overtime all together, with games ending in ties at the end of the 4th quarter? Wouldn't that simple switch lead to a better tie breaker then " points scored in the conference" or whatever tie breakers are used now? With teams having more ties then now, it would work well. And in reality, I think it would force teams at the end of the year to take more risks for W's, knowing ties are hurting them, which will result in a W or L either way. Plus, it would liven up the NCFL...THE NATIONAL CONSERVATIVE FOOTBALL LEAGUE. I'm SOOOOO against more games it ain't funny.

Good post btw.

That would be going too far - with all the parity in the league today you'd be having teams finishing with records like 7-5-4 (the record, by the way, in percentage terms, for most tie games in a season was in 1967, when nine of the 112 games played within the 16-team, pre-merger NFL ended in a tie; that would come out to 20 or 21 tie games in today's league, which plays 256 games - and there was far less "competitive balance" then than now, so the number would probably be even higher - about 25 or so). If the league simply shortened the overtime to ten minutes, you would probably see four to six games a year end in a tie - which would allow most close playoff races to be decided by half-game margins (i.e., a 9-6-1 team beating out a 9-7 team for the last wild card, which actually happened in the NFC last year), instead of five teams tying for the last two spots and my "Scenario 25" coming into play (as happened in the AFC last year).

And to answer your question, Skinswin - it probably took me about an hour and a half to arrive at all the scenarios I posted; and others do exist, such as five teams tying for three playoff spots, that I didn't even get to (when you get to that level you would need three rounds' worth of playoffs to break the tie - which is why changing overtime would make a great deal of sense; that way, with a few tie games every year, the worst logjams in the standings wouldn't have any real chance of ever happening).
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Old 09-23-2003, 07:57 PM   #12
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I see it now Anthony, thanks. I agree, a ten minute OT would give us more ties, but not the mind boggling total that would occur if ties became law at the end of quarter 4, MOST LIKELY. Your 10 minute OT would proably be enough to get enough tie breakers every year between your 9-7 and 9-6-1 squads. However, I get a little queasy at tweaking the OT to something not perfectly aligned with regulation. It's not the tweaking of the college game, which basically becomes " give me offense or give me hell" with their OT setup, totally ignoring special teams and to an extent defense, but it is atleast a little different from regulation.

In any event, I'm pro ties at the end of the fourth quarter anyway,in pro and college, without considering tie breakers. It would be interesting to see how many ties do occur each year if they adopted my idea. You say a ton, and part of me agrees, however, at the end of the year, we would proably see a HUGE burden on coaches deciding to go for wins, knowing ties may hurt them. Adds drama, which is always fun.

BTW Anthony...

I agree there is more parity, but does that parity necessarily translate into MORE GAMES WITH CLOSER FINAL SCORES? Hard to explain, but we all know it's hard to pull out a few teams and say..." oh, their a 12 to 13 game winner easy" like we used to do with the 49ers or Cowboys. However, is margin of victory getting closer? If anyone can find that stat, it's you, and if it is INDEED UNCHANGED OR ACTUALLY GETTING LARGER, I SAY MY TIES AT THE END OF THE 4TH QUARTER IS A GOOD POINT AS A MEANS TO A TIE BREAKER. Parity...yes...parity in scores from week to week as evident by closer scores????...That's the real question.
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Old 09-24-2003, 02:50 PM   #13
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Anthony has a fellow tiebreaker decryer... at espn.com, no less.

See this column.

It starts out discussing the disaster scenario that could have been the NL wildcard and central in MLB, but refers to some NFL tiebreaking and playoff problems, while touching briefly on similar issues in the NBA and NHL.

He proposes nothing, unlike our Anthony... maybe Anthony should apply for an espn.com Page Two job... Couldn't be any worse than the majority of their contributors.

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Old 09-24-2003, 09:28 PM   #14
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I say no to ties at the end of the game. I say no to ties at the end of overtime. I say yes to a college football perception!

I love the college football overtime system because nobody walks away with a tie. Win or lose and it's some of the most exciting games in all of football.

But doing something like this or even keeping the current OT rules, I think, would require no change in the playoff scenario. Imagine this. Let's say the Dallas Cowboys run the gauntlet so to speak. They have a 9-6 record, and they need a 10-6 record to get to the playoffs. With one final game against the Saints, they do a hard battle ending in a last second field goal from Billy Cundiff. The Cowboys win 20-19. The next week, they're thrown into a tiebreaker against...say...the Panthers. Another tough game...they barely squeeze by 14-10. Then, they play another tiebreaker game against Atlanta and win 23-17, stopping Atlanta at the 5 yard line at the end of the game.

The Cowboys play 3 straight do-or-die games just to make the playoffs, meanwhile, the Seahawks (or whoever takes the first round bye) gets to rest easy for 3 weeks. It's already a mismatched #1 vs. #4, #5, or #6 game let alone for #1 to be well-rested and focused and the lower seed being beaten to death. If you give these wild-card teams this formula, assuming they win all the way to the Super Bowl...it's a 22 game season with 1 week of rest.

And yes, before you bring up the 18-game schedule, I am against it.
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Old 09-24-2003, 10:54 PM   #15
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Ugh. The college overtime system is the most retarded overtime system in existence. I hate it. Completely removes a significant part of the game from the game, arbitrarily puts teams in field goal range...

Stuff it.

I like ties. I don't quite understand the insistence against them. (Like is a strong word. I don't mind them. I prefer them to the crap in college football.)

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