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The NFL’s New Overtime Rules For The Playoffs, Explained

The NFL’s new overtime format has been met with mostly positive feedback, and only minimal negative (see Payton, Sean). Jake Simpson of The Atlantic is so happy he boldly proclaimed that “football is fair again.” For those not in the know re: the new overtime rules, that’s what we’re here for.

First, let’s brush up on the old format that will still be used during the regular season: It’s simple. A coin toss decides who gets the ball, and the first team to score wins. That format leaves the fate of the game in the hands of a coin, since every team who wins the toss will elect to receive, they only have to potentially go 35 yards to set up a game-winning field goal. (Okay, well, almost every team will elect to receive: I’m looking at you Marty Mornhinweg.)

The new rules, which will be adopted for the playoffs only, are a hybrid of the current format and the college setup. Basically, if the team who starts with the ball goes down and scores a touchdown the game is over, but if they only get a field goal the other team has one chance to answer back.

If the team with the ball first has to punt, or there is a turnover, it goes straight to sudden-death. The nice tweak they added gives teams more incentive to score a touchdown, and makes the chance higher that both teams will have the ball.

Take it away, Simpson:

“The problem with the old system is blindingly obvious to anyone with common sense or a high school understanding of math.”

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[NFL's New Overtime Rule: Making Football Fair Again] The Atlantic

  • eas1949

    These guys spend their entire lives working for one goal, the Super Bowl. They start with Pop Warner Football, High School Football, College Football, then hope they’re good enough to get drafted, hope they’re good enough to play at the pro level. They work hard all their lives for this once in a lifetime opportunity to become a champion, then watch it all go down the crapper when a coin hits the ground, wrong side up. Yeah, that’s fair, so say the people “in charge” as they sit on their fat butts, telling the players how it will be.
    Two propositions immediately come to mind. Either allow the players, by vote, to decide how to deal with overtime, or simply play another quarter. You say that playing another quarter is too long? Do you think they’ll complain about getting a fair chance in lieu of how it is now? Try asking the players what they want for a change. This ain’t brain surgery.

  • Anonymous

    Makes you wonder what the overtime rules will be for the Superbowl… hmmm..

  • Ruthimike

    I have always felt that in overtime each team should have one chance at offense. Whether a touchdown is scored or a field goal. This rule should also apply during regular season. A coin toss always gives the receiving team an advantage to score first.

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