The overtime rules are poised for a potential shakeup far more intriguing than a simple reversion to true sudden death.
Per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, the Ravens will be proposing a pair of overtime procedures premised on the concept of “spot and choose.”
It works like this: One team picks the spot of the ball to start overtime, and the other team chooses whether to play offense or defense.
If the one team picks, for example, the offense’s own 20 yard line, the opponent would then choose whether to play offense from their own 20 or to play defense, with the other team having the ball on its own 20. This would minimize greatly the impact of the coin toss; under this proposal, the coin toss would be used only to give the team that wins the toss the right to pick the spot of the ball (along with the end zone to be defended) or to choose offense or defense.
Under one of the two proposals to be made by the Ravens, overtime would proceed in sudden-death fashion, with the first score by either team ending the game and up to 10 minutes of extra time. (If the game remains tied at that point, the game’s outcome would be a tie.) Under the other proposal (favored, we’re told, by Patriots coach Bill Belichick), the game would continue for another seven minutes and 30 seconds, without a sudden-death component. Whoever leads after the extra time has ended would be the winner. (Again, if the game remains tied after the extra session, the game’s outcome would be a tie.)
As one source involved in the development of the proposal pointed out to PFT, it actually traces to an idea articulated in 2003 by our own Michael David Smith, who at the time wrote for FootballOutsiders.com.
It’s believed that the break-even point would be the 13 yard line. For the 14 or beyond, the team choosing offense or defense will be more likely to take the ball. For the 12 or closer, the team choosing offense or defense will be more likely to opt to defend. Obviously, however, the final decision will hinge on a variety of factors, regarding offensive and defensive personnel, weather conditions, range and accuracy of the kickers on both teams, etc.
Regardless, the “spot and choose” approach replaces chance with strategy. One team picks where the first drive in overtime begins, and the other team picks whether it will take the ball or give the ball to the other team. It’s a fascinating wrinkle that would truly revolutionize overtime and — more importantly — make it fair to both teams.
Like all rules proposals, 23 other teams will have to agree with the Ravens before the rule changes. Count us as being in favor of the approach.