Ed. note: I typically write about baseball. Baseball is almost nothing like football. Two teams meet in athletic contests to determine a winner. Other than that, yeah, nothing. These thoughts just couldn’t be kept off the internet, however. They’re important.
However, there is good news! I’m going to use a cliché right now. You should duck and cover if you hate clichés. I wish I could join you undercover, but writing this piece means I also have to read this: The San Francisco 49ers are in control of their destiny.
The Niners currently hold the edge over the Saints per the tiebreaker rules. In fact, so long as they end the season with the same record as the Saints, you won’t have to go any further than the first applicable tiebreaker to find the boys in red and gold with a first round bye.
The two teams won’t meet this season, so we go down the tiebreaker list to conference record. Currently, the Niners have the edge with an 8-2 mark against the Saints tally of 6-3.
In the final three weeks of the season, the Saints are playing exclusively intraconference while the Niners have one interconference game remaining (Pittsburgh). The Saints cannot end the season with more conference wins if each team has identical records.
For fun, though, here’s a look at how the teams stack up if we were to go down the tiebreaker list:
- Not Applicable
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
- 49ers: 8-2; Saints: 6-3
- Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
- 49ers 4-0; Saints: 3-2
- Strength of victory (record of all the teams they defeated that season).
- Saints .454; 49ers .406
- Strength of schedule (record of all the teams they played that season).
- Saints .464; 49ers .449
- Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Projected: Saints 36.22; 49ers 39.11
- Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
- Projected: Saints 35.5; 49ers 35.0
- Best net points in conference games.
- 49ers +120; Saints +49
- Best net points in all games.
- Saints +129; 49ers +125
- Best net touchdowns in all games.
- Saints 32; 49ers 15
- Coin Toss.
Fine print!: Color me confused in regards to No. 6 and No. 7. I did some research to find out exactly what that means, but Google mostly yielded thousands of websites that copy and pasted the list verbatim from NFL.com. The best explanation I found was that you add each opponent's offensive and defensive rankings and add them together. Lowest score wins. Sort of like golf, except football is actually exciting.
I don't know if you're to use conference ranks for No. 6 and NFL ranks for No. 7 or if you use NFL ranks for both. The Saints are better either way, but for ease I just used the NFL ranks for each. Please, if you know the answer to this, let me know so I can sleep tonight.
If I were a Saints fan in this situation, I'd probably wish conference tiebreaker rules considered similar opponents before conference-wide numbers. The Niners clearly had the easier conference schedule this season. Then again, the Saints did lose to the Rams, so either way, haha!
Follow Alex on twitter: @alexcarson