NFL 2023 playoffs: New postseason overtime rules mean it’s better to give than to receive

The NFL is about to head into its first playoff series with the new overtime rules, and the coaches who win the toss will likely determine whether to make the unusual decision to kick off. to the opponent in overtime.

The league changed its overtime rules this past offseason largely due to the end of the Bills-Chiefs Divisional Round game. The Chiefs won 42-36 after winning the overtime toss and scoring first, meaning Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense never touched the ball in overtime.

For the playoffs only, both teams must have the opportunity to own the ball. Gone are the days of winning the toss, scoring a touchdown and ending the game.

And that should change a coach’s strategic approach. Being assured of offensive possession in overtime should lead coaches to postpone their captain if he wins the overtime toss.

Kicking off the opponent would let the winning team know exactly what they need to win or extend the game. It would also give the team the chance to finish the game with a defensive score. And that would most likely give the team a better starting position on the pitch via a defensive save and ensuing punt at kickoff.

Winning the toss and choosing to kick is what is almost always done in college football. But even then, you are guaranteed to start your offensive possession at the 25-yard line. Winning and kicking into NFL overtime would (most likely) give the toss-winning team the advantage of a better starting position over the opponent.

Since 2010, there have been 12 overtime playoff games. The teams that won the coin toss are 10-2 in those games, although only seven of the 12 who won the coin toss have won on their first possession without the other team possessing the ball .

The league used those numbers — 10-2 and seven of 12 — to justify changes to overtime rules. In reality, it was the jaw-dropping Bills-Chiefs game that forced the change.

The Chiefs won the overtime toss in the AFC title game against the Bengals and still lost the game. In the controversial NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Rams after the 2018 regular season, the Saints won the toss in overtime and still lost the game.

In the 12 overtime games since 2010, not a single team has won the overtime toss and chosen to kick their opponent. And according to TruMedia, since 2017 only one team has gone that route in the regular season.

In 2019, Mike Tomlin opted for this in the Steelers’ Week 5 game against the Ravens. Mason Rudolph, who was thrust into the starting role early in the season with an injury to Ben Roethlisberger, suffered a concussion midway through the third quarter and was replaced by Devlin Hodges. The Steelers collected just six more points for the rest of the settlement.

With strong winds in Pittsburgh and a struggling offense, Tomlin decided to kick the Ravens and play them upwind after winning the OT toss. That meant a defensive save would likely return the ball to the Steelers with better court position and the wind at their back. Eventually, the Steelers fumbled near midfield after getting the save and the Ravens hit the game-winning field goal from 46 yards to win.

The new playoff overtime rules include 15-minute periods instead of the 10-minute overtime period in the regular season. If the team that received the ball first does not score a touchdown, or if the score is tied after each team has possession of the ball, the next score will win. (If the team with the ball first commits a safety on the initial possession, the kickoff team would win.)

Each team will have three timeouts per “half”. Although there are technically no halves like in the regulations, two extra periods would be considered one half for all intents and purposes. It also means a two-minute warning would come towards the end of the second extra-time, although it’s highly unlikely a winner won’t be decided by then. There would also be no coaching challenges allowed in overtime.

There have been four overtime games since the 2019 season, so the league averages more than one per season. Considering the league has just seen the most games decided by six runs or less as well as the most games by a score in the fourth quarter, it’s more than possible that these overtime rules will come into play this post-season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *