New Proposed Overtime Rules

The NFL announced it is considering new overtime rules. The new rules will be considered by the competition committee and, if approved, would be implemented for future playoff games only. I've heard two versions of the proposal, and in this article I'll analyze both.

The version I heard goes like this: the team that loses the coin flip is always guaranteed at least one possession. If the coin-flip winner (which I'll refer to as the 'first team') scores and the  second team matches the score, then the game reverts to the sudden death format. If the first team fails to score and the second team does, the second team wins. If the first team scores a field goal, and the second team scores a touchdown, the second team wins.

The other version, reported by ESPN, would guarantee the second team a possession only if the first team does not score a touchdown. In other words, if the first team scores a field goal, the second team gets one possession to match or exceed the score. If the first team scores a touchdown on its first possession, however, the game is over.

One very important consideration in the "response" format of football overtime is that the second team has the luxury of knowing what kind of score it needs to live on. In either version of the proposal, If the first team scores a field goal, the second team would never consider punting, and therefore would be far more likely to score than otherwise.

A Simple Model

Here is a simple model to illustrate just how big an effect this would be. A typical touchdown drive consists of 4 or 5 first downs, including the score itself. First downs are converted 67% of the time, moving the chains about 16 or so yards each conversion. This simple model makes for about a 70-yard drive, scoring a touchdown about 20% of the time (0.67 ^ 4 = 0.20). This makes sense because an offense typically scores a touchdown 20% of the time starting at its own 30.

If a team has all four downs available to it, how often could it score a touchdown? When a team uses a 4th down to convert, it essentially has two 3rd downs. Third downs of any distance in the NFL are converted 48% of the time. So in the 33% of series which go to a 4th down, an additional 16% of series will result in conversions (0.33 * 0.52 = 0.14), for a total conversion rate of 81%.

This wouldn't just mean a 14% increase in the chance of scoring a touchdown. It would potentially more than double the chance. Football drives are recursive, meaning the same process is repeated over and over. If you increase the rate of success for each sub-process, the overall success rate increases geometrically. Touchdown drives would increase from 20% of all to drives to well over 40% (0.81 ^ 4 = 0.43)!

Even if a team only needs a field goal and not a touchdown, it would still benefit from using its fourth downs, if necessary, prior to entering field goal range. And if they convert, they are still free to continue the drive seeking a touchdown.

Analysis

I'll first look at the version of the proposal in which the second team always gets an opportunity to respond whether the first team scores a field goal or touchdown. The illustration below is known as an extensive form of a game, sometimes referred to as an event tree. All possible permutations are considered moving left to right. Each state of the game is represented by a box (the 'nodes'), and the probability of moving from one node to another is noted on each arrow (the 'edges').

If the two teams tie at the end of the first two possessions, the game basically reverts to the sudden death format we're already familiar with. We've already seen this movie, and we know how it ends. Ignoring the possibility of a tie (which would be slightly higher now), the first team wins a little more than 60% of the time. So no matter how it plays out, with turnovers or punts or a kickoff return, we can collapse the game into a sub-game of 60%/40% in favor of the first team.

In this case, I made some conservative assumptions based on typical drive outcome rates. A team that needs a touchdown to match will get it 40% of the time. A team that needs a field goal to match would match it 20% of the time while getting the touchdown 30% of the time for the win.


We can sum up all the total probabilities for the scenarios in which the first team wins. The actual probabilities are just rough estimates for typical drives, so this analysis submits a method for finding an answer rather than declaring an actual answer with much certainty. Feel free to replace my probabilities with your own. In any case, this estimate results in a 52%/48% outcome in favor of the first team, which would be a significantly smaller advantage than the current format.

(You might notice that when the first team does not score, the game effectively becomes a sudden death game, except now the second team has the 60/40 advantage.)

The other version does not reduce the advantage as much. If the second team cannot respond to a touchdown, it's not going to win as often. Here is the extensive form when the second team is guaranteed a response to a field goal by the first team.


In this version of the proposal, the advantage for the first team is 56%/44%, still smaller than the advantage in the current format.

Either way, the important point is that football is a recursive process, and its outcomes vary exponentially with respect to the sub-game outcomes. If a team's chance of converting a first down is increased by only a few percentage points, they would be able to score far more frequently. Second teams would be able to respond more easily than most people might think, including those on the NFL competition committee. I think the NFL will be surprised how often an overtime game under the new rules reverts to the sudden death format.

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52 Responses to “New Proposed Overtime Rules”

  1. Andrew Foland says:

    Sudden death has a sort of comprehensible, simple logic to it: first team to score wins.

    Letting the second team have a chance also has a comprehensible sort of logic to it: both teams get the ball with a chance to win.

    Letting the second team have a chance only if the score is not a touch down has the logic of: let both teams get a chance to win, but only if the first team scores a lot, because a little score doesn't really show that they're that much better that they deserve to win.

    The "only if it's not a touchdown rule" has a sort of weird myopic overspecificity. It also happens to be precisely the sort of inanity that the NFL goes in for. (See: "ball must be held through to the ground, except after a second attempt to get over the goal line". Or whatever that ruling was.) So I can only assume that's the rule the NFL is actually considering.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They could probably simplify the second proposal to: game ends when one team scores at least 6 points in overtime.

  3. DSMok1 says:

    I like the first one mentioned better...

    Either are better than the coin flip determining the winner if there are two high-power offenses.

    Another option would be to say, "Win by 4". First team with a 4 point lead wins the game.

  4. DSMok1 says:

    I like the first one mentioned better...

    Either are better than the coin flip determining the winner if there are two high-power offenses.

    Another option would be to say, "Win by 4". First team with a 4 point lead wins the game.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What if they forced the teams to go for it on 4th down by forbidding them to punt? The two teams would get equal opportunities to score and pretty much the same amount of downs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Also, the team that wins the coin flip would be at a disadvantage if they chose to go on offense first, but the fact that they have the choice of going on offense of defense first is more than enough to balance out the % of winning for both teams.

  7. Chase says:

    Anonymous,

    That "no punts allowed" rule is very interesting.

    Brian, what are your thoughts on that? Would it be wise to elect to kick or receive? What are the odds that a team goes 4 and out, knowing they have 4 downs? I would want to do a bunch of math before saying more, but my initial gut feeling is that my preference between kicking and receiving would be very close to even under such a regime.

  8. Brian Adams says:

    If there were no punts allowed, I think that would be way too big of an advantage for the team that kicks off, since the receiving team will fail to score 70% of the time.

  9. Kiran Rasaretnam says:

    Brian,

    As usual, a very thoughtful and beautifully explained analysis of the potential impacts of the new rules. The NFL Competition Committee ought to hire you as a consultant to the process!

    I saw in your previous article discussing the current overtime rules some suggestions for alternative approaches, including some fairly creative ones by some of the commenters. I have my own recommendation (along with 2 other changes I would make to the current game) on my site.

    My suggestion for overtime goes like this:

    1) No overtime games during regular season.

    2) In post-season, in a game that goes to overtime, winner must score at least seven points to win, and team that wins, must win by at least four points. If team that receives the ball first (team A) scores on opening drive, then team B must get a possession.

    I'd be very curious as to what your thoughts are on my suggested method.

    Keep up the great work!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I suggest that the field goal option be eliminated completely. The first team to score a touchdown wins the game. Too many games are decided by an overtime field goal
    I also suggest that the team who has the ball at the end of regulation will receive the kickoff to open the overtime period. Thereby a team which might be driving for a score and runs out of time would be rewarded. This would apply as long as that team is not in a fourth down situation.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How about no punts and only TD's can win the game. That would make OT exciting.

  12. Fred Goodwin says:

    @Kiran: so a team that goes up by two FGs in OT still has to give the ball back to the other team?

    I think winning by four ought to be sufficient -- you don't need to add another rule that says you must score a TD.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Brian,

    What are the stats on college style overtime? That seems to be the best option. ALso, I realize that this could cause more downs for players (more likely to get hurt), but isn't the NFL already looking at expanding the season?

  14. Ty says:

    I don't understand why the "race to six" (first team to score six points in OT) doesn't get more discussion . . . it's both simple and effective.

    Peace
    Ty

  15. Xeifrank says:

    To get the 52/48 and 56/44 odds to be close to 50/50, why don't they also require that the team with the ball first, start at their own 20 yard line.
    vr, Xei

  16. Just Me says:

    In Peter King's MMQB column he writes, "On average, the NFL plays 12 overtime games a year. That means a team has a 75 percent chance of playing an overtime game in an average year."

    Is that percentage right?

  17. Doctorjorts says:

    What ever happened to the "home team gets the ball to start OT" idea? Pre-determining the first possession makes things fairer than the current system when the kicking team knows that they had better break the tie in regulation. It could also be mixed in with these other proposals, if desired.

  18. JP says:

    "No punts allowed" would probably force teams to elect to kick since they can get great field position if the other team turns the ball over on downs.

    I have a question about the odds used above, how does it account for field position? If the first team does not score then it would have to punt and the 2nd team might get terrible or great field position.

  19. Ian says:

    Well that's interesting. The first method sounds really stupid because it gives the second team an advantage because they know what they have to do, yet the team going first still maintains a (slight) advantage.

    I think I could live with the first method given that it's theoretically, at least, much fairer.

  20. Ian says:

    Just me - Yeah I think so.

    If there are an average of 12 overtime games per year that means any one game has a 12/256 chance of going to overtime.

    Teams play 16 games per season, so 16 x 12 / 256 = 0.75

  21. Anonymous says:

    I never understood the need for overtime during the regular season and I'm definitely in favor of getting rid of it...for the playoffs, just continue the 4th quarter (4th ends with 3rd and 2 on the 39 yard line, that's how OT starts) til a) someone scores, or b) someone leads by 6 (or 4)

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think your decision tree overlooks a key point: what does a coach do when they have 4th and 2 at the opponents' 25? Some will go for a first down, some will kick a FG. Seems hard to believe that 30% of the time a team scores, and 2/3rds of the time, the score is a TD. I don't think you'd have TDs scored 20% of the time, and FGs only 10% of the time on the opening drive.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Howsa bout a 6 + 2 rule? Team A that wins the coin toss must go for 2 to win or this leaves Team B a chance to score as well if Team A fails. This eliminates a field goal winning it until at least a second possession if both teams flub the 2 point conversion.

  24. Anonymous says:

    A pretty simple solution that I've been pushing forever is just give the second team one chance to *beat* the first team's score (a tie like you discussed wouldn't work). If the first team has the balls to go for 2, they win. But they would almost never do that because it would leave them vulnerable to a TD+1. I think this nullifies the second-team advantage and most teams would still choose to take the ball first if they win the flip. If the first team doesn't score overtime proceeds as normal.

  25. Bobby says:

    Or, looking at a team's 75% chance of OT another way:

    12 OT games = 24 teams potentially take part in an OT game. 32 * .75 = 24

  26. Anonymous says:

    Isn't the math technically wrong though. I mean the odds of all 12 OT games being evenly distributed so that 24 different teams participate in them are extremely small. So if you assume 12 OT games, aren't the odds of any one team playing in an OT game less than that 75% (b/c some teams will be playing two or more).

  27. Anonymous says:

    You miss the real point - overtime and TV time. The networks want a quick ending for every game to keep advertisers happy. Money will determine the overtime rules, not fairness. Like politics and crime, just follow the money...

  28. Anonymous says:

    I keep hearing this and it makes no sense. I mean what is the logic behind advertisers wanting shorter games? The NFL gets paid tons of money for the programming b/c it brings in the most people. Wouldn't you want it on as long as possible? Wouldn't you want to push back 60 minutes or whatever, b/c lets face it football is bringing in 10 times the viewers? I'm not saying you're wrong Anon...as I have heard this line repeated over and over, but I'm curious to the logic behind it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Doesn't overtime increase the number of viewers or audience of a game? So why would advertisers want a quick ending? Seems to me that the number of viewers would increase as the drama of the OT unfurls. Why would advertisers be unhappy?

  30. Jason says:

    "In Peter King's MMQB column he writes, "On average, the NFL plays 12 overtime games a year. That means a team has a 75 percent chance of playing an overtime game in an average year."

    Is that percentage right?"


    Not remotely.


    Assuming there are exactly 12 overtime games, and they are randomly distributed...

    The chance of any one game going into overtime is 12/256. The chance of any one game NOT going into overtime is 244/256 = 61/64. The chance of 16 consecutive games NOT going to overtime is (61/64)^16 = .464. Therefore, the chance of playing at least one overtime game is .536, or 53.6%.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I think the reason the game has changed from a 50/50 to more like a 60/40 win rate for the team winning the coin toss in the current format is simply the proliferation of domes throughout the league. Wind, rain, snow...none of these factor into the decision, so it becomes dumb not to receive the ball in overtime.

    I don't think you'd have to change anything about the toss, however, or the sudden-death...just change how you win the game: no field goals allowed.

    Two teams battle for 4 quarters, one gets a lucky coin toss/good kickoff return combination, and they're within 20 yards of winning the game; that's where the cheapness of the current system comes into play. But if they're required to get a touchdown, all of a sudden, field position, a good running game, good punter, etc. all factor into the outcome of the game. No cheap wins, and as far as increase to injury? Sorry, but that's a risk every football player takes when they put the uniform on. If the NFL is so concerned about this, let's play 14 games instead of 16, or change the playoff format to allow less wild-card teams in, and play the Superbowl in January the way it used to be. Possible injuries shouldn't dictate the outcome of a game in OT.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I say we leave the coin toss, throw out the sudden death, replacing it with something more like...fairly prompt death =P Here's my idea:

    The winner of the coin toss elects to receive or kick per usual, and an ordinary kickoff and drive is commenced, with an important difference - There are no punts. If 4th down is reached, a team must go for it. The drive either culminates in 8,7,6, or 3 points for the offense, or ends at a certain yardline.

    At the end of the drive, the other team receives a kickoff and drives down the field.

    The winner is the first team that, in order of importance:
    -Scores on kickoff coverage (Kicking team recovers and scores)
    -Scores defensively
    -Scores offensively and maintains the lead at the end of an even number of drives.
    -Advances the ball further down the field without scoring than the opposing team.

    In case of offensive ties, the process would be repeated.
    in case of an defensive takeaway that does not result in a defensive score, the team that gave up the turnover will have their drive marked as ending where the ball carrier is tackled on his way to a defensive score.

    I believe this strategy is fair because:
    -The advantage of the coin toss is negated by each team receiving a kick, much like during regulation opening kicks.
    -While the "last possession" advantage /does/ exist, it will have been brought about by that team's defense in the first possession. For example:
    -Team A receives and drives to OPP 45
    -Team B can now (depending on their offensive structure) confidently proceed with relatively conservative playcalling to advance beyond that marker, just as a smothering defense in regulation allows a more conservative offense.

    Alternately:
    -Team A drives the length of the field and scores a touchdown + PAT
    -Team B, as a direct result of their defense failing to make a stop, must now perform AT LEAST as well, scoring 7 points, but would be faced with the decision of going for 2, weighing the skill of their offense against the ability of their defense, because a failed 2 point would immediately lose the game, a successful 2 point would automatically win, and a PAT would continue the game.

    Similarly, Team A was faced with a related decision after scoring - Go for the 2 point, because an 8 point score would guarantee them another possession at the least, but risk giving Team B an easy victory with a PAT if the 2 point is failed.

    I think this would bring to play key elements of regulation play - (Score as many points as possible, settle for 3, or ending the drive ONLY if forced), while the "impending doom" factor that makes overtime so make-or-break would still be absolutely present.

    Thoughts?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Though, to criticize my own idea, I think we'd see a lot of 1 point games, where the first team scores 7 and the second scores either 6 or 8. But I don't think it's nearly as arbitrary. After all a more aggressive coach of Team A could make the 2 point gamble. It might not even be all that rare, because your defense still has the whole field to stop the drive at any point, even if you miss the 2 point conversion...So team's with a decent defense could possibly stomach the risk.

  34. Anonymous says:

    How about 2nd Team gets the ball after a 1st possession score but must outscore the 1st team.
    1st team gets a FG-3, 2nd team needs a touchdown-6 to win. 1st team scores a touchdown 6+1, 2nd team needs a 6+2 for the win.
    No scores in first possession then sudden death.
    First team scores 6+2 Game Over.
    Safety Game Over.
    Quick enough (unlike College) Fair enough.
    Very Interesting for the viewer.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I like the rule as it is. All that needs to happen is someone make a damn play on defense (remember the Arizona Cardinals against the Packers). The rule book does not guarantee anyone a possession at any point during the game, let's not change that. The only change I would support is to follow the NBA and College Basketball, play a reduced 5th quarter say 10 minutes. In the regular season, if it's tied after 5 quarters it's a tie. In the playoffs keep playing until there is a winner, or you could say effective with the 6th quarter it's sudden death. This still keeps the flow of the game as it's played during regulation (i.e. kickoffs, punts). Don't change it unless you add a full period of some type to OT.

  36. Jeff Clarke says:

    "I keep hearing this and it makes no sense. I mean what is the logic behind advertisers wanting shorter games? The NFL gets paid tons of money for the programming b/c it brings in the most people. Wouldn't you want it on as long as possible? Wouldn't you want to push back 60 minutes or whatever, b/c lets face it football is bringing in 10 times the viewers? I'm not saying you're wrong Anon...as I have heard this line repeated over and over, but I'm curious to the logic behind it."


    That WAS the logic behind it. You see this all the time. People come up with a rule that makes sense based on the current environment. The environment changes. The rule doesn't. Without even acknowledging changing circumstances, some people continue to argue the old logic.

    In the early 70s, Sunday night programming was very valuable and football was basically Sunday afternoon filler. The argument made a lot of sense. Don't fill up on bread when the lobster is coming. Over the last 30 years, the roles have been basically reversed. Sunday night programming (excluding SNF obviously) isn't worth much at all. Football is extremely valuable.

    I always marvel at how long a rule can stay in place after the logic no longer makes sense.

  37. Jeff Clarke says:

    Jason is totally right and Peter King is totally wrong. However, if Peter King had said "A team will play in an average of 0.75 OT games" instead of "A team has a 75% chance of playing in one", he would be right. Given the context of his overall argument, I don't think it would have changed his conclusion.

    He made the point that the Colts haven't played OT in years. I think this does raise an interesting point. Average teams will play more overtime, because they are less likely to be involved in blowouts than really good or really bad teams. I'm not sure exactly how big this factor is, but its definitely there.

  38. Jeff says:

    IMHO, the more glaring reason the Colts haven't played many OTs is that ties are more likely when the score is low. So AFC North teams probably play an inordinate number of OTs (guessing), while any high-scoring team with poor defense would be less likely to play an OT.

  39. Anonymous says:

    One important factor not touched is how any change to OT rules might impact on Q4 particularly whether and when to go for 2EP rather than the straightforward kick as teams might be more willing to take their chance in OT

    No-one has mentioned safeties but without checking I doubt many have been settled this way

    Also under current rules the team on Offense don't have to wait until 4th Down for the FGA - they can go on any Down, so why mess around once inside the red zone when the probability for any kicker and circumstance must exceed 80% ?

    Alter gently if at all. From Brian's work we know the median LofS is the 15 so mute the affect of the coin flip straight away by starting from the 15 automatically. If the outcome of this possession is a Safety or Defensive TD then game over. Offense cannot go for a FG on this possession and to score must get a TD followed by a one or two EP attempt.

    If Off score then the other side must obviously score a TD, again starting at the 15, and then either choose to match or exceed the first team's EP. This again should mitigate the coin toss advantage to a slight extent

    If Off don't score then the second team must score at least a TD to win, taking over possession conventionally beyond the 15; otherwise from the 15

    If both teams fail to score, or match the type of Offense TDs starting from their 15s, then the first team resume possession BUT crucially starting from their 15. Straightforward OT then applies with a FGA on any Down and any LofS now being sufficient

    Hugh

  40. Craig Lutter says:

    My two big problems with the current system:

    1) Too much emphasis on the coin toss

    When the rules state that the first team who scores wins the game, a flip of a coin should not determine something of such great importance as a first offensive possession.

    The reality is: When a team's offensive unit is on the field first, they are playing to win the game. The opposing defensive unit is instantly put into the unenviable position of playing not to lose.

    2) Kickers are given too much value:

    With the OT rules as they are, a previously streaky kicker who happened to make a 40-yarder should not be responsible for ending a game and sending the opposing team packing, possibly even ending their season.

    When an offense starts out and is able to initially move the ball against a defense, a good defense will tighten up near mid-field and become virtually seamless when the opponent is in the red zone.

    Even when a field goal is given up, it’s often considered to be a small victory for the defense-bending, but not breaking.

    A successfully kicked field goal in OT is not such a outstanding accomplishment whereas it alone should award a team the win, especially when no response is allowed by the opposition.

    Please read my next post for my proposed change.

  41. Craig Lutter says:

    My proposal:

    1. The coin toss remains the same. The winner of toss chooses to defend or receive.

    2. If you choose to receive and play offense, there are 3 possible outcomes:

    •If you score a touchdown, you win the game.
    •If you score a field goal, you will then have to give the opposing team one offensive possession. With this possession, a touchdown by the opposing team ends the game. A field goal would give the ball back to you, and the process would repeat...
    •If you don’t score at all—you lose the game .
    Let me explain this third scenario, as it is the difference maker that adds fairness and excitement.

    First off, there is no punting option for the offense. You either score or you lose. If the defense prevents you from scoring any points on that one possession, they win the game. This adds great importance to the decision of the coin-toss winner. It requires the hopefully competent coach to analyze the strengths and weakness of themselves and the opposition.

    Breaking down the decision:

    You choose to receive —You have confidence in your offense being more superior than their defense. While the ultimate goal is to score a touchdown, you need to be completely sure you can score a field goal, otherwise the game is over. The coach's/coordinator's play-calling strategy is based on their offense having all four downs at their disposal since punting is not an option.

    You choose to defend —You have confidence in your defense being more superior than their offense. The ultimate goal is to not allow them to score at all, thus winning the game for you. But you must be confident that your defense won’t give up a touchdown—otherwise it's over. Giving up a field goal is acceptable, but not desirable as now you must rely on your offense to at least match it on their next possession.

    Imagine a matchup with last season's Colts and Jets teams, and you're Jet’s coach Rex Ryan. Regulation has ended with a tie, and you’ve won the toss. With my OT rules, the decision after the coin toss is not clear cut.

    Though you have the best defense in football, do you really want to give Peyton Manning the chance to beat you? He can end it with one TD pass.

    But if your defense can be motivated for this one series, they may be able to shut down the Colts offense and win the game for you.

    But your defense had a shaky final quarter and looks tired. And if your defense does allow a field goal, are you sure your offense can at least match it?

    Maybe you should choose to receive, as you think Indy's defense is even more exhausted than yours.

    Edwards has been burning the young Colts CB—do you hand it over to an offense with the best running attack in the league, but with a rookie quarterback with little experience with pressure situations? Remember, you need at least a field goal to keep the game going. And Thomas Jones has struggled today…etc., etc.

    The scenarios and storylines would be fascinating. This is a much more exciting style of overtime play.

    The decision to kick or receive would be just that—an actual decision that stresses the skill level of your coach.

    It brings that college football overtime excitement, while still retaining regular elements of regulation play.

    Every play on offense and defense will have huge implications and carry a great sense of urgency.

    It also presents an opportunity for the defense to literally win a game (other than by scoring a safety or TD off a turnover).

    The kicker's importance is there, but significantly watered down, as he cannot win games with a single kick. He can only extend the game with a successful kick, or lose it with a miss. Kickers will be utilized less, since the teams on offense have a higher motive for scoring a touchdown for the win. This finally eliminates the ridiculousness of a field goal being just as valuable as a touchdown in OT play.

    -craiglutter.com

  42. Anonymous says:

    What we really need is a breakdown of Overtime history of what percentage of OT have been won by a FG on the first possession from the KO

    Whilst there is a case of if it is not broke don't mend it and the number of games effectively decided by the coin toss is very small, I still think we need to strip out the FGA on first possession by either side and the variance of the KO

    But I reiterate. Whatever you go for in OT will influence Q4 play

    Hugh

  43. Patrick Haskell says:

    So many complicated ideas. The win by four notion seems simple enough. I'd prefer the no OT in the regular season and 10-minute overtime periods in the playoffs. If tied after 10 minutes, 10-more, continuing until somebody wins. That's a tough break the following week, but that's the punishment for not getting the job done in regulation.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Patrick - they're not really complicated - just honest assessments how the system could be made apparently less inequitable; by removing the cheap FGA option, KOR variance and coin toss

    Look at it another way. If the coin toss is 60/40 determining the win then this only accounts for 2-3 games out of 256 games or 1%

    Hardly worth the bother in regular season

    But play-offs are an entirely different matter as it is likely to be the only time a player gets an opportunity to reach the Super Bowl

    And as soccer proves, no-one likes the penalty shoot out

    So KISS. The best option is best leave almost well-being alone in regular season and post-season play an extra quarter (without a 2MW). If scores are tied at the end of 15, play continues into a sudden death period

    Going beyons Q5 might happen a couple of times in my lifetime but at least the three main variables cited above are mitigated

  45. Tarr says:

    Do I really need to say it again?

    http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/02/why-nfl-overtime-needs-to-change.html?showComment=1265161002618#c4367392032763102931

    Just keep playing the game. Transition from 4th to OT is the same as the transition from 1st to 2nd or 3rd to 4th, only now you're in sudden death.

    This satisfies fairness criteria far better than all the "one extra posession" scenarios, and is much simpler and quicker as well.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Sudden death, first to 6 points wins is the most logical solution.

    Defense is a part of football. If you kickoff and the other team drives down and scores a TD, you do not deserve the ball back to try and score.

    Plus think of the drama it would create if Team 1 is at the opponents 10 yard line 4th & 2. Do they kick the FG and hope to get the ball back or go for the TD?

    The one above by Tarr is ridiculous as the team with the ball at the end of the game has a huge advantage and doesn't even have to worry about clock management at the end of the 4th.

  47. Chris says:

    From MMQB

    1. ...there's no real momentum for change. As one NFC GM told me Sunday night: "Is there a poll anywhere with fans demanding a new format for overtime? Where's the demand coming from? I don't hear it from fans or from players.''

    2. Coaches don't seem to want it. "I want to be fair, and I want to hear the arguments from the committee because I respect the Competition Committee,'' one AFC coach said. "But there's going to be decisions that have to be made if you change overtime from sudden death, strategy we're going to have to think about. I think it's just another thing we've got to worry about, with all the other decisions we have to make.''

    3. The just-play-defense faction is as loud as the reform faction...

    4. Some don't want a different rule in the postseason from the regular season.

    These aren't Peter King's arguments, but GMs and coaches. My responses...1. Are you really that out of touch with how upset general NFL fans are and fans of losing team when only one team touches the ball in overtime. 2. Well, at least he was honest, coaches are scared to be criticized. One heck of a profession, where you can be scared that someone might make your job more challenging. Geez!!! 3. Has been covered extensively in this blog & comments 4. A good point, but you've got to start somewhere, and if all you can get is postseason, do that and then work from there.

  48. Anonymous says:

    In scenario 2 (the one they are using) have you accounted for the game theory of the first team potentially using fourth down to push for a TD instead of a FG since it would end the game without giving the ball back to the other team?

    How does that strategy change based on field position (I think I would be very likely to go for it close to the other teams end zone).

  49. Nat says:

    Here's my OT proposal:

    Teams get the same number of possessions. No field goals or extra points allowed. The only ways to score on offense are touchdowns and 2-point conversions. That would make it fair and short.

  50. Edward Lee says:

    "The one above by Tarr is ridiculous as the team with the ball at the end of the game has a huge advantage and doesn't even have to worry about clock management at the end of the 4th."

    If a team is down by 3 nearing the end of the game, they can attempt to score a TD instead of settling for a FG. If they're down by 7, they can attempt a 2PC instead of a XP. Etc.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Probably too late, but to answer the question about why the networks like the games to end on time--viewers are far less likely to join a show or game in progress than they are if it is just beginning, and if they do, they are more likely to switch to something else before the end.

    That is why there is the 4:15 rule, that the network that does not have the late game can not show live action after 4:15 EDT. Fewer people will switch to the late game if it's already in the middle of the first quarter.

    Long games also affect the ratings of shows that follow football. Someone looking for 60 Minutes and finding a football game is likely to find something else to watch or do.

    The 4:15 rule is not going away. So the result of proposals that lengthen overtime in the regular season is that you are likely to see the start of overtime, and then the dreaded "contractal obligations prevent us from showing the end of the game." And that always sucks. That is why the new method only applies the post-season where there is more scheduled time between the games.

    Also, the networks sell a set number of commercials. Once they are shown, extending the game doesn't not generate more revenue. Haven't you ever noticed certain games speeding up at the end with shorter timeouts (and only a couple of quick network promos) between possessions. That's because all the ads have been shown.

  52. Brian Burke says:

    Interesting points.

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