The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

NFL Overtime

Ivars Peterson at Science News Online has a new idea for overtime called the "first to six" rule (the first team to six points wins), and some analysis on how overtime was changed when the kickoff was moved back to the 30 yard line (giving a bigger edge to the coin-toss winner):

"This reduction in the impact of the coin toss on the outcome of the game is a trade-off because of the increase in the number of tie games," Jones writes. "Although fans would be happy that the outcome of the game is decided less by luck and more by play on the field, coaches may regret Monday morning quarterbacks second-guessing their decisions of whether or not to attempt field goals in overtime. Scoring three points still gives the other team an opportunity to score a touchdown and win the game."

Of course the Outsiders still have the best idea for overtime that I've ever heard:

In my improved overtime format, the team captains would meet at midfield for a coin toss, just as they did on Sunday when the Ravens played the Seahawks. But the captain of the Seahawks wouldn’t decide to kick or receive when he won the toss. Instead, he would have to name a yard line where the overtime kickoff would be placed. Then the Ravens’ captain would say whether he wanted to kick or receive. So Mike Holmgren might instruct his captain to have the kickoff spotted at the 43-yard line. Brian Billick would tell his captain, “If they put it anywhere inside the 40, we’ll receive. Otherwise, we’ll kick." Losing the toss really wouldn’t be any disadvantage, because both teams can determine what they think is a fair spot for the opening kickoff.

Essentially, this is like an auction. Both teams want to get the ball first, so it will be awarded to the team that is willing to give up more in field position to get it. In this scenario, neither team can have any complaint. The team winning the toss can’t claim the field position was unfair because it chose the field position. The team losing the toss can’t claim the field position was unfair because it chose whether to take the ball deep in its own territory or try to pin the opponents deep.

Practically perfect in every way.


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