Does the NFL need new overtime rules?

For the second straight season Aaron Rodgers, Mr. Otherworldly himself, has gotten bounced from the playoffs in an overtime game. Both times the Green Bay Packers lost and the coin toss and Rodgers’ defense failed to give him a chance to win the game. Is it time to consider a rule change?

Max: I feel a little conflicted about this. I enjoy the college overtime rules, but I’m not sure they would be as entertaining in the NFL. College overtime, like the rest of the college game, is wildly chaotic. That’s part of the charm. I’m not sure the NFL needs more chaos, especially since we can’t even get together on the definition of a catch.

The NFL’s movement away from sudden death seems to be one of the few rule changes the league right in recent years. It makes the team that wins the coin toss earn a victory. Defense is half the game and I’m ok with the overtime making it important.

Kelly: The world needs more Aaron Rodgers in it. For this reason, and this reason alone, the NFL should change the overtime rule. I’m not saying we should go all college here and start the never ending chaos that could result, but I think a simple tweak could help add some more late game fun.

The NFL should allow both teams to touch the ball, and then have it become sudden death. Take that Arizona-Green Bay game for example, again. We would have all of the excitement of Rodgers’ heroics to tie the game, see Larry Fitzgerald show the Packers’ defense who’s boss and then give Rodgers one more shot. I mean come on, don’t we want to see him attempt at least another Hail Mary? Or see the 260 lb running back rumble down the field only to be caught at the 5? If the Packers somehow tied it up, which isn’t as easy as it seems with extra points these days, then the game goes to sudden death. And Fitzgerald could once again eat the Green Bay defense for lunch…

Max: It’s hard to argue against more Aaron Rodgers, but I don’t really like the idea of sudden death. What if, for example, the Rodgers Hail Mary had come on Green Bay’s possession in overtime? If Fitz’s touchdown is the sudden death blow, isn’t this just the same thing?

It can’t be the innings-type format of college and sudden death feels wrong too. That’s why I think the rules are fine as they are.

I also think we need to be careful changing the rule simply because it happened to be Rodgers’ team getting knocked out this way the last two seasons. If this season showed us anything it’s that we don’t have 32 people who can play quarterback. Do we want to change the rule so that Brandon Weeden and AJ McCarron get to make more throws?

Kelly: (Mark Sanchez should be a starting QB in the NFL, just saying….) I digress. Anyways, I do see your point there, but I don’t think we’re just doing this because of Rodgers. I think people want to see their team get a shot with the ball in overtime. I mean maybe (god I hate to say this) Bill Belichick was onto something when he deferred against the Jets in week 16. That would bring another layer of strategy into the overtime games and coaches would have to decide if they wanted the shot first or if they wanted to play from behind if the other team scored. I mean come on wouldn’t it be fun to see what a coach like Andy Reid could do if we gave him more time to mess up the clock?

Max: Doesn’t that chance exist with the rules as they are now, though? Belichick made his gamble under them and was mostly mocked for it. We don’t need a change to give coaches this chance- it already exists.

I think you could talk me into changing the rules for the playoffs, but the regular should stay the same. No one, least of all the broadcast networks will complain about more playoff football, but the regular season probably too long already. What if, in the playoffs, we just played another quarter? Teams can possess the ball as much or as little as they want and if the score remains tied, we play another quarter.

Kelly: Oh heck no. I hate when we have rules for 17 weeks of a season and then just poof! They’re gone. If we’re going to change the rules they must be for the full season. And too long? The NFL season is a perfect length if you ask me. If you want to talk about too long, we should switch to baseball…

Max: But the playoff games have higher consequences. The rules can be different to show we care more about them because, hey, we actually do. The rules that govern 17 weeks are still there we’re just upping them to go along with the higher stakes of playoff games.

Kelly: I would say you probably have a better chance of convincing me to keep the rules the way they are now, than you do of convincing me to change them just for the playoffs.


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