Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Gambler's Guide to the NFL's Playoff Overtime Rule

We we were listening to Sports Talk Radio earlier this morning when the two co-hosts were arguing over the NFL's new Overtime Rules in the 2011 Playoffs.  Brought on by the unfortunate circumstances of last year's NFC Championship Game, which saw the New Orleans Saints win in Sudden Death Overtime on a 40 yard field goal a couple of minutes into overtime, the NFL instituted overtime changes that promised a losing coin toss did not necessarily spell doom.  Now granted I was rooting for the Saints to beat Brett Favre, just like everyone else, but I saw the point.  Football was not meant to be decided by coin tosses and field goal kickers (Adam Vinatieri and Scott Norwood be damned!).

As we listened to the various scenarios that were now in play, I asked C and G if they understood the new overtime rules.  It certainly seems like the over is a more favorable bet in the playoffs, considering that the chances are that if a game reaches overtime, the score will increase by perhaps 6 points, instead of the usual 3 points - with the possibility of 9 points being scored.  I like the over bet even more with these new rules.

I already knew the boys knew the overtime rules better than Donovan McNabb, but could they understand these new rules?  Despite the ridiculous argument one Boston guy made that these new rules bring into play onside kicks (do you really think that Rex Ryan, after winning the coin toss, would choose instead of driving for a touchdown do an onside kick so he can win instead with a field goal?  We'll get to that).  Here are the five most likely scenarios that I tried to explain to the boys.

Scenario 1.  Team 1 scores a touchdown.  If a team receives the ball first and drives for a touchdown.  They win the game and the Team 2 does not receive the ball.  Easy enough.

Scenario 2.  Team 1 scores a field goal and Team 2 scores a field goal.  Here is when the slightly different scenarios may once in a while take a turn to the bizarre.  The key thing to remember is that other than an opening drive for a touchdown, each team needs an opportunity to possess the football.  If a team receives the ball first and drives for a field goal, the other team gets the ball back.  If the other team kicks a field goal, the teams revert back to sudden death.

Scenario 3. Team 1 scores a field goal and Team 2 scores a touchdown. If the first team scores a field goal and the second team scores a touchdown, the second team wins the game.  Period.

Scenario 4.  If the first team does not score, the game reverts back to sudden death, and if the second team scores at all, then that second team wins.

Scenario 5.  If for some reason there is a safety in the first series of plays or an interception or fumble, the team that scores the safety, or scores after the fumble or interception, wins the game regardless of when that safety is scored or if the second team scores after that interception or fumble.

There are numerous other scenarios that can be debated, but like I said, why would Rex Ryan do an onside kick when he can just have his stellar defense stop all defenses?  The situations above are the situations that are most likely to happen.

So boys, do you understand the new overtime rules?

"Dad, can we play basketball outside?" my six year old asks.  I think that says it all right there.

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