clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL to Change Overtime Rules for Playoff Games?

There has long been a debate about the NFL's overtime system and if games should be determined basically by a coin toss. Of course, not every overtime game is determined solely by who wins the coin toss (just ask Marty "I will take the wind" Mornhinweg), but the team that gets the ball first certainly seems to have a better chance of winning. After all, teams only need a field goal to win an overtime game, which is why there is a proposal to change the overtime system for the playoffs.

Under the new system that may be up for a vote at next month's league meetings, playoff games that go into overtime could only be won by the team that gets the ball first if a touchdown is scored on the opening possession. If a team only kicks a field goal, then the other team gets the ball and has a chance to go down the field and win the game. If for some reason that team just wants to tie the score back up with a field goal of its own, then play would continue and the winner would be the next team to score.

Most proposals for a new overtime system in the NFL seem to revolve around a format based on college football's overtime rules because both teams get the ball. Usually any idea involving the college overtime system includes backing the ball up from the 25-yard line because that is too close. My ideal system would something along those lines, because I do think starting at the 25-yard line is too close, especially in the NFL. I would rather have teams start from the 40- or 50-yard line, as that makes a field goal much less of a certainty.

If the NFL were to stick with a variation of its current system, however, then the idea for the playoffs is a step in the right direction. I can understand the argument against college football's overtime system because it is a whole different game on such a shortened field, but the NFL's current system is much worse because both teams aren't guaranteed to touch the ball. Yes, I get the attitude that if a team wants the ball it should make a stop, but in a shootout losing the coin toss could very well be the death blow. Then again, Arizona lost the overtime coin toss against Green Bay in a playoff game that was definitely a shootout and forced a turnover to win the game. Even so, I think a change is necessary to even things up a bit, especially for playoff games. While I would still like to see both teams get the ball, forcing the team that gets the ball first to score a touchdown to win would be a big improvement and force coaches to really strategize.

The one issue I have with this latest proposal is that the new overtime rules would only take effect in the playoffs. Why limit a change that coaches would probably love to gain experience with long before they are in the playoffs? It's not like overtime games would be extended that much under the newly-proposed format. Many overtime games under the current system don't end after only one possession, and although that is an argument against a change to the rules, I think any change should be across the entire season, not just the playoffs. It just doesn't make much sense to only have a different overtime system for the playoffs when regular season games would not be extended much at all. Sure, there could be more games that don't end after only one possession, but big deal. A few more minutes of football are more than worth it to make overtime much fairer than it currently is.

What do you guys think?