The system used by the NFL to break a tie after 60 minutes has long been criticized. There is no perfect system but one that gives a big advantage to the team that wins a coin toss is a little ridiculous.
In the past 15 years, the team that won the coin toss at the beginning of overtime won the game 60% of the time. With the new rule, if the team that wins the coin toss kicks a field goal on its first possession, the opposing team will then get their turn on offense. They will not get that possession if the first score in overtime is a touchdown and they will have only one chance to tie the game again or win it. Once again, this is not a perfect system but is there really a better one?
The NCAA overtime system has been discussed and although it is exciting, I don’t like it for the NFL. The one thing I strongly believe is that overtime should not be different from regulation time. In the NCAA, each team begins at the 25-yard line and gets a chance one after the other to score until there is a winner. What I don’t like about those rules is that you are taking only a part of the game to decide the winner. A lot of things change when an offense starts from the 25-yard line: strategy changes, playbook is smaller, more importance is given to kickers and so on. This system would give an advantage to certain teams.
A few other proposals are: first team to score four points, play the entire overtime or each team is guaranteed one offensive possession. One thing the NFL doesn’t want to do is extend games because games that last four hours create a number of problems for television, stadiums and the city. Personally my favourite proposal was the one that guaranteed each team an offensive possession but after further thought, I think I like the new system better.
The new system will have the same effect as the guaranteed possession system except that if a team scores a touchdown on their first possession, they win the game. If a defense allows a team to go the length of the field for a touchdown, does their offense really deserve an offensive possession? It only takes about 30 to 40 yards to get in field goal position and it’s unfair to lose a game because of that but a touchdown takes about 70 to 80 yards, you don’t deserve another chance.
With that said, I think this is a great decision by the NFL but I don’t understand why this rule applies only for the playoffs. It doesn’t make much sense to have different rules for the regular season and for the playoffs. If 28 out of 32 teams believe it’s a good rule, then use it for the regular season as well. The regular season is 16 games and every game matters, so if the current system is unfair for the playoffs, it also is for the regular season. This issue will be discussed in May so let’s hope the NFL gets it right again and makes the change for the regular season as well.