Everyone recognizes that the NFL overtime system is flawed, but there seems to be difficulty making substantial changes to it. We have certainly seen adjustments to the clock and winning situations, but there still remains plenty of room for a more drastic overhaul.
This week, Pro Football Talk learned the Ravens—an organization known to be analytically minded—have two different proposals for changing the extra period, both stemming from a change in the coin toss decision:
One team picks the spot of the ball to start overtime, and the other team chooses whether to play offense or defense. If the one team picks, for example, the offense’s own 20 yard line, the opponent would then choose whether to play offense from their own 20 or to play defense, with the other team having the ball on its own 20.
After the starting logistics are decided, there are proposals for two different formats (with both still allowing for ties):
Under one of the two proposals to be made by the Ravens, overtime would proceed in sudden-death fashion, with the first score by either team ending the game and up to 10 minutes of extra time.
Under the other proposal...the game would continue for another seven minutes and 30 seconds, without a sudden-death component. Whoever leads after the extra time has ended would be the winner.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
How should the NFL change its overtime rules?
My answer: I actually am okay with something as simple as just giving the home team the ball first and keeping the existing rules. Getting the ball first does not drastically improve a team’s chances of winning, and having a clear procedure already set allows for more strategy in the fourth quarter. Away teams might get more aggressive in their play calling, and that leads to more exciting football.
However, I recognize teams are unlikely to sign off on an idea like this. I would also be in favor of moving to the college overtime rules (alternating possessions, required two-point attempts from the third overtime onward), but instead of starting at the opposing 25-yard line, moving the ball back toward midfield. This seems like a more equitable system than what the NFL features right now.