The Kansas City Chiefs’ overtime rule proposal will be voted on during the annual league spring meeting. But should the rules really be changed?
Following their painful loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs submitted a proposal to change the rules of overtime. This came after the Chiefs lost in overtime without getting the chance to possess the ball.
The official proposal submitted by the Chiefs read as follows:
By Kansas City; to amend Rule 16 to (1) allow both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least one time in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown; (2) eliminate overtime for preseason; and (3) eliminate overtime coin toss so that winner of initial coin toss to begin game may choose whether to kick or receive, or which goal to defend.
The proposal was tabled during the March league meeting and set to be voted on in May, during the spring league meeting. The spring league meeting is set to begin May 20th and will run through May 22nd. According to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, the Chiefs are planning on amending their proposal to include less items for a higher chance of passing.
Earlier this month, the Chiefs’ proposal gained support from the Dallas Cowboys. In an interview with Pro Football Talk, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones stated:
I certainly tend to lean toward the new rule. . . . I certainly watched every play of that Kansas City-New England game, and you kind of would have liked to have seen what would have happened if Kansas City got another shot at it, and then how the thing would have ended up. It was football, in my mind, the game at its best. I certainly don’t have a problem with guaranteeing each team a shot at it.
While the proposition has outside support along with fan support, should the rules really be changed? To Chiefs fans, there is no doubt that the AFC Championship would have been better if quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a chance to command the offense at such a pivotal moment. And after such a great four quarters, why should the game come down to a single overtime coin flip?
The coin flip certainly has an impact on overtime. Nearly 55% of teams that have won the coin toss in overtime have gone on to win the game. Because ties are a factor, that percentage means the victors of the coin toss are 9.6% more likely to win. Though it’s hardly above 50%, this does give the team that wins the coin toss a significant edge.
It makes sense, then, for the NFL to revamp overtime rules. But perhaps the Chiefs’ proposal will lead to more ties in the regular season—and no one likes a tie. Maybe a better solution would be to draw from how college football does overtime.
In college, teams play in overtime periods that allow each team to get one possession, starting from the defense’s 25-yard line. While there is still a coin toss, if the teams remain tied at the end of a period there will be another period with a flipped order of possession; the team who started on offense during the first period will then start on defense during the second period. If the teams remain tied after two periods of overtime, they are required to go for a 2-point conversion instead of an extra point following a touchdown.
Since it’s the NFL, maybe each team should start their possession at their own 20-yard line, but following the college football model would not hurt. It would be better for the game as well as the fans. Teams wouldn’t be upset over losing in overtime without getting a possession. Ties would be eliminated and fans would be allowed to see more entertaining football.
This change would be radical, but if the Chiefs’ proposal fails, perhaps they should entertain the idea. Overall, one thing stands true: the NFL needs to restructure the rules of overtime, not only for the teams, but also for the fans.