Tuesday, March 30, 2010

new overtime rules

Well, the NFL finally came up with new overtime rules. Not the ones I would've picked but an improvement. Now the coin flip winner will get the ball first, and if they fail to score a touchdown, the other team gets the ball. If both teams don't score or both score field goals on their first possessions, the game goes to sudden death.

I'm curious to see how that plays out. There's going to be some interesting team-strength-dependent strategizing.

Personally I would have gone for one of two simpler solutions that maintain the sudden-death attribute (which is more exciting and avoids long overtimes that cut into other tv programming, and which can eliminate rather than reduce the coin-flip winner's advantage).

The first is to just move the kickoff line back to the point where, on average, half of teams score on that possession (somewhere around 20 yards, if I recall correctly). That's certainly better than the current situation, but still imperfect, since different teams have different strengths and the probability won't be 50% in any particular match-up.

The other solution, which is more wonky but in my opinion more awesome, is the divide-and-split rule, which I previously blogged about in more detail. The coin-toss winner (or the team who lost the initial coin flip, since they performed slightly better in regular time) proposes where the kickoff point will be, and the other team chooses whether to take the ball or defend first. Just like kids deciding how to split a pie, this should lead to an exactly fair overtime.

Ah well, the economic nerds lost this one.

In other football news, my favorite running back (who is admittedly over the hill, which is why the Chargers cut him in the first place, but oh well) is joining my favorite team, the Jets! Yay.

And, weeks 16 and 17 will be all or mostly division games next year, to avoid great teams resting starters (which, frankly, is the only way the Jets got to the playoffs this year.) Should be exciting.