While the NFL discusses changing its overtime rules, now could be the time to look at alternative formats. Sudden Death just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore as a lot of games are decided on who wins the coin toss. At times, it feels like a game of rock, paper, scissors would be more sufficient. Giving an opposing team a chance after a field goal helps, but it just doesn’t seem to gain the excitement and fair play that the NFL was going for. NFL owners and officials need to look at scrapping the current overtime format and developing a new one instead of “tweaking” the current rules. A new overtime format would enable a more fair system and would be more accommodating to the excitement that fans crave. Here’s a few alternative overtime formats that the NFL should look at adopting and maybe modifying to fit the needs of the league and the fans.
Install Playoff Overtime Format for the Regular Season
This system has it’s pros and cons with the pros being that it would eliminate ties and would play under current rules and the biggest con being it could contribute to a very long game. The current playoff overtime rules are basically the same as the current regular season overtime rules with the exception that a game can’t end in a tie. Overtime in the playoffs will play as many fifteen minute quarters as it takes to determine a winner. This would be a step in the right direction, but there’s certainly better alternatives out there.
College Football Overtime Format
The NCAA eliminated ties in football games in 1996 when it developed their current overtime format. Basically teams start on the opponents 25 yard line and play under normal college football rules. Each team is given a possession in a series and the teams alternate between until on team comes out on top. At the start of the third series, teams must attempt a two point conversion in an attempt to make the game more challenging. This would be the most popular route the NFL could take and they could tweak the rules a bit to match the abilities of pro football players. Maybe mandating two point conversions from the beginning or starting at the 50 yard line instead of the 25 yard line. The college football overtime has also provided some of the greatest finishes in football history.
XFL Overtime format
This is by far my favorite overtime system that I’ve ever seen. It makes the game more of a challenge and provides some intense and exciting football action. The overtime format is basically the same as the college football overtime, but has one huge tweak. If a team scores in fewer than four downs on a possession, the other team only has that many downs to attempt to score. This system could cause teams to take more risks and give the players a chance to make the exciting big play. Nothing would be sweeter than seeing your team scoring on first down and putting the pressure on the opposing team to match that feat.
Put it on the Kickers
This was an idea that a buddy of mine came up with and while it may seem a little far-fetched, it’s definitely thinking outside of the box. Basically teams would line up for field goals starting at a 40 yard attempt. If both kickers are successful, then you move the attempt back five yards and continue to do so with a 55 yard cap. This format would have a soccer shootout feel, but it would certainly be exciting and nerve-racking to watch. You could also most likely see more defenses going for the block.
It’s doubtful that the NFL will elect to change their overtime format with any of these or another format they create and it’s a shame because the current overtime just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It would be exciting to see a player like Ezekiel Elliott diving for the end zone to match a score or Tom Brady having only one down to keep the game alive. Maybe even seeing Odell Beckham Jr. making a game winning catch in overtime and once again making the highlight reel. Whichever alternative you like the best, one thing is for sure. Every alternative is better than the current NFL overtime format.