For the second time in five years, the NFL’s overtime rule could be undergoing a drastic change, and if it happens, we could see more ties.
According to NFL.com, the competition committee is set to propose a rule at the league’s annual Spring meeting that would reduce the length of overtime. If the rule were to pass, the overtime period would be shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for all regular season and preseason games.
For a proposal to become an NFL rule, it has to get a “yes” vote from 24 of the league’s 32 owners, who will all be attendance for the meeting, which is set for March 26-29 in Phoenix.
If the overtime rule proposal were to pass, it would have no bearing on the playoffs. The postseason would still operate with an overtime period that runs for 15 minutes.
The NFL is considering the change for regular-season games because the league wants teams to be on an even playing field for Thursday night games. According to NFL.com, the league feels that teams are at a “real disadvantage” when they have to play a Thursday game following a Sunday game where they played a 15-minute overtime period.
Of course, the obvious downside to having a shorter overtime is that it would likely mean that we’d see more ties during the regular season. There were a total of two ties during the 2016 season, which marked the first time since 1997 that there were multiple ties in a season.
According to NFL Research, 22 of of the 83 overtime games that have been played since 2012 have gone on for more than 10 minutes, which means those games would’ve presumably ended in a tie if the new rule had already been implemented. So, yes, if you love ties, this could be a good change for you.
If the rule does pass, it would be the second big change in five years. Back in March 2012, the NFL modified overtime with a rule change that guaranteed both teams a possession as long as the team that received the overtime kickoff didn’t score a touchdown on its opening drive.
Before that rule was instituted, NFL overtimes were sudden death, which means that the first team that scored won the game whether those points came by field goal, safety or touchdown.
The rule change in 2012 was actually implemented for playoff games in 2010, but the NFL didn’t make it the rule for all games until two years later.
With both teams getting a possession in most games that went to overtime, the 2012 rule change dramatically increased the number of ties in the NFL. From 2012 to 2016, there were five ties in the regular season, which is a huge number when you consider that there were only five ties from 1989-2011 before the rule change.