As we all know on Tuesday the NFL owners voted 28-4 to change the rules of overtime, at least for now in the playoffs, to no longer be "sudden death". I say "sudden death", because if you win the coin toss and drive down for a touchdown... you still win the game without the other team getting a chance to possess the football. Now, I've made it clear I do not like the overtime changes. I thought they were just fine the way they were, and to be frank had it not happened to Brett Favre, it's likely they wouldn't have changed.
Many people will try to tell you that more than 60% of the time the team who wins the coin toss wins in overtime. Sure, that's true... but what a lot of those people forget to mention that's overall (both teams have a possession) and not on the first possession. Since the addition of overtime in 1958, teams have won on the first possession after winning the coin toss less than 1/3rd of the time. Not to mention in the playoffs there have been 27 overtime games, where 22 of those games (80%) both teams had a possession. Everyone likes to spout the old cliche "Defense wins championships", but I guess there is a new caveat to it; "unless it's in overtime."
The interesting thing about the change in the overtime rules is that it really doesn't change much at all. Sure, you can't win on an opening field goal anymore, but if both teams kick field goals the team winning the coin toss can then win the game on the next field goal. What exactly changed here? Team A got two possessions and Team B only got one. So that's considered fair? You can still win on a cheap field goal. Not only that, but as I mentioned previously teams can still win the game on the opening possession by scoring a touchdown. All the change really did was appease the national media personalities that championed a change because it "wasn't fair". Well, it's still not fair. Teams can still win on the opening possession and teams cans till win on cheap field goals.
A lot of people argue that this rule change will make teams more aggressive in overtime and more apt to "go for the throat" and go for touchdowns instead of field goals. Why would they do that? If they fail to get a touchdown and have to punt, all the other team needs is a field goal and their done. What will likely happen is teams will still play overtime like they do now, ultra conservative, and try to force the other team to score a touchdown on their possession. If they have to settle for a field goal, it's right back to sudden death. It might make the team getting the second possession a tad bit more aggressive, but why would a coach go for broke instead of extending his chances by being conservative and kicking a field goal? If this were the case, wouldn't more coaches go for the win in regulation instead of running the ball 3 times and kicking a field goal to head to overtime?
It's always funny to me when fans gripe after an overtime loss where they did not get a possession about how "unfair" overtime is. Well guess what? Take care of the football game in the 60 minutes of regulation and you won't have to enter the dangers of overtime. If Brett Favre hadn't thrown an interception at the end of the 4th quarter in the NFC Championship game, the Vikings wouldn't have lost in overtime. I think it also needs to be mentioned that most NFL coaches are not happy with the change, especially since the vote was taken while some were playing charity golf and while some were in line at Space Mountain.