Does the NFL need to change the overtime rules?

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There were a couple of proposals but the final one that will be voted on this week at the owner’s meeting in Orlando is as follows:

If the team that wins the coin toss goes down the field and scores a touchdown, the game is over. However, if that team is stopped and kicks a field goal, they would have to kick off and give the other team a chance to either score a touchdown or kick a field goal. A 3-3 tie in overtime would begin a true sudden death scenario.

The biggest argument is that both teams should get a shot at the ball. There have been more wins recently by the team getting the ball on the flip. From 75-93 the team that got the ball first won 46.8 of the time. However, from 94-09 the team that got the ball won 60% of overtime games. Worse, the percentage of games ended by a field goal jumped from 18% in 75-93 to 26% in the 94-09 period.

Another argument against the change says that there should not be 2 sets of rules one for the regular season and one for the playoffs. But we have 2 sets of rules now. In the regular season after 15 minutes of scoreless overtime, the game is over and ends in a tie. In the playoffs, they play until one team scores no matter how long that takes.

Does the overtime system need to be changed?

Probably not. The system has been in place for years. The only objection to the rules comes from coaches and players of teams that are the loser of a coin flip and are not able to prevent a FG from their opponents.

Would this change improve the system?

Probably not. The college system is clearly not the answer. The injury rate for NFL players would skyrocket having to play 2 to 3 sets of downs from the 25. The new rule will extend overtime games to some degree but does allow both offenses to get on the field if the flip winner is only able to kick a FG. To those teams that cry over the current rule I have 2 suggestions. First, get better on kickoff coverage so that the team winning the flip starts from inside their 25 yard line. Second, play better D so that the opponent is forced to punt and give you the ball. If you do both of those things, the overtime rule works fine for everyone.

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That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

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