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

  • Tim Baysinger

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