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Overtime

Posted by Doug on October 27, 2006

I just realized that I've been blogging for over six months and I haven't yet championed some clever overtime system to replace the NFL's current sudden-death system. I don't really have a problem with sudden death, but everyone else has a pet idea, so I want one too. Actually, I have two.

Unlike some of the other proposals out there, these have absolutely zero chance of ever being taken seriously by the authorities. So there's no sense in getting all serious and trying to start the grassroots movement. But I do think they're interesting ideas. They both focus not on restructuring overtime itself, but on preventing the need for it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and all that.

1. Eliminate the (kicked) extra point. Teams are required to "go for two" after every touchdown, but it's just for one point. I haven't done all the math, but I think this would make ties less common, because teams that scored the same number of TDs and field goals would be much less likely to have the same number of points. We'd pick up a few extra ties because lots of TDs would be equal to two field goals. But we can fix that. Make the touchdown itself worth seven and the try worth an additional one point. Since 3 is relatively prime to both 7 and 8, I think we could make ties very unlikely with this system.

2. No overtime. A tie counts as a loss in the standing for both teams.

I told a friend about this system, and he cleaned it up by suggesting that we don't have to "count a tie as a loss." We could call a tie a tie, but change the standings so that they don't list wins, losses, and ties, but instead list wins and nonwins.

I really haven't thought my way through the consequences of this, but I do know that it would create a sense of urgency at the end (of regulation) of a fair number of games that isn't there now. Nothing disgusts me more than a team down three with a minute left sitting on the ball so they can kick the easy field goal and play OT. This would put an end to that practice. And in fact, I think the effect of this rule would ripple back to create more aggressive decisions all the way back to the beginning of the fourth quarter.

And I don't think there is any circumstance where the end of regulation would be less exciting under my system than it is under the current system. Yes, we'd lose the overtime, but overtime is pretty boring anyway. It usually consists of 0, 1, or 2 punts, a 40-yard drive, two kneel-downs in the middle of the field, one timeout to ice the kicker, and then a field goal. I can live without that.

Implement both of these rules and I bet it would almost completely eliminate ties without playing any overtime at all.