03.01.10 8 years ago 21 Comments

The NFL gets a lot of grief for its sudden-death overtime system, and it shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with a tiebreaking system that’s only 10 percentage points away from total randomness. I’ve said before, the best way to not lose in overtime is to not get there, and I’m hard-pressed to invoke pity on a team that can’t get a stop on defense. The NFL, it seems, finally feels differently, as it reviews a proposal to modifythe only tie-breaking system it has ever had.

If it is approved, the rule, called “modified sudden death,” could be used in next year’s playoff games. The intent is to prevent a team from winning on a long field goal without giving the other team a possession, the way the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings in the N.F.C. championship game. –NYTimes.

In a nutshell, it’s the old World League overtime where a team has to score six points in overtime to win the game, essentially guaranteeing the other team a possession unless they give up a TD. Color me unimpressed, and enjoy some other tie-breaking proposals after the jump.

Whichever team has the ball in regulation loses it in OT. The idea behind this is that a team with ample time to score at the end of regulation would be forced to do so, rather than take a knee and hope for the best in the extra frame. Of course, this all goes out the window once teams decide to punt with three seconds remaining.

Bid for field position. This idea seems to be a fan favorite. In this situation, the officials would award the first overtime possession to the coach willing to take the ball closer to his own end zone. I’m a fan of doing this a la The Price is Right’s “Cliffhangers,” where the referee would march up the field from the goal line until one coach throws his flag, signaling his choice to take the ball at that spot. It’s very World Series of Poker, but it’s definitely more strategic than a coin flip.

Let the damn game end in a tie. Ties, generally, are unsatisfying to the American sports fan. I doubt that the anti-climactic experience of neither team winning for fans would offset the implied benefits of safety to players and predictability to television distributors. Ties aren’t the end of the world, and it certainly takes the flip of the coin out of the equation.

What overtime format would you like to see?

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