Teams may choose to kick off in overtime if a possession is guaranteed

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Since the NFL adopted overtime for the regular season 45 years ago, the winner of the overtime coin toss has chosen to receive the kickoff about 99 percent of the time. That may change if the proposed overtime rule change is adopted.

The proposal, which was tabled until May, would guarantee both teams a possession in overtime, even if the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown on the opening possession.

That rule might make kicking off more advantageous than receiving at the start of overtime. If you get the ball second in overtime, you know what you need to do to win: Score a touchdown or just kick a field goal. That allows teams to cater their play calling and strategy to the specific situation, and that’s why the team that wins the coin toss in college football overtime almost always chooses to play defense first, and get the ball second.

The NFL proposal isn’t exactly the same as college overtime, and there are some advantages to getting the ball first that don’t apply in college. For example, in the regular season overtime would still be limited to 10 minutes, and receiving the kickoff would allow the first team with the ball to take a lot of time off the clock and not leave the other team with much (or any) time to score on its possession. That’s one reason coaches might rather receive.

If the rule passes, it’s going to make for some interesting strategic decisions for coaches. And a lot of second-guessing of coaches when their teams lose in overtime. Which may be one reason that coaches have given the proposal a lukewarm reception.

9 responses to “Teams may choose to kick off in overtime if a possession is guaranteed

  1. If both teams score FG’s orbit teams score TD’s then the team that received the ball first would then be able to win in sudden death. This is why both teams getting a possession doesn’t fix the problem. You are right back where you started at the start of overtime. Skip the extra layer and just keep it how it is.

  2. The AAF overtime is better than NFL. Both teams get ball on the 10 yd line and have 4 plays to score a TD, no FG’s and must go for 2 pts.Makes too much sense for NFL, they are too busy listening to Sean Peyton complain.

  3. The Chiefs proposal does not guarantee an OT possession to both teams, it merely allows for an “opportunity” for both teams to have a possession. There’s nothing to say the team that gets the ball first in OT can’t score a TD, and then convert an onside kick to immediately end the game without the second team ever getting the ball. In fact, there’s a certain mad genius to trying that since the worst thing that could happen is the other team gets a short field and can — maybe — tie the game back up and just reset OT in which case you get the ball back yourself and can just score again. Current OT, by contrast, makes an onside kick insane because you can easily lose the game by giving the opponent a short field in sudden death. Honestly the Chiefs’ proposal is so dumb and full of holes that part of me hopes it passes just so Belichick can exploit it.

  4. But one of the arguments against the current OT rules is that teams winning the coin toss, almost always decide to receive the ball. This is cited as evidence the system is broken. So now what you’re telling me is, under different rules, teams would now choose to kick the ball off. If I follow the logic, isn’t that just evidence that the new rule would be just as broken?

    And why is it that no one complains about one last drive to win the whole game, as long as it’s done in regular time? Is that any more “fair”?

    If you want to win the game, try winning it in regular time so that there’s no question.

  5. Simple solution, no sudden death or whoever scores first garbage. Just play the full 15 minutes if still tied play sudden death, every coach like Reid or choker Payton should then have enough chances to blow the game and lose.

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