The NFL owners are meeting in Orlando this week and among the agenda items are the rules that govern overtime. We’ve heard about this for years, how it’s so unfair to basically have a coin toss decide the winner of a hard-fought and hotly contested game. This issue came front and center during the NFC Championship game when the New Orleans Saints bested Brett Favre and the Mnnesota Vikings to advance to the Super Bowl. The Saints won the OT toss and promptly marched down the field to kick a field goal and punch their tickets to Miami.
The numbers back up the notion that the current overtime system needs some fixing. From 1974 (when the league implemented sudden death) until 1993, OT winners were a 50-50 split between who won and who lost the toss. After the ’93 season, when kickoffs were pushed back 5 yards, the percentages took a a sharp turn. Now teams the lose the toss win less than 40% of the time.
Now I don’t know anything about anything, but is seems to me like if you change the kickoffs five yards up to the 35 it might go back to pre-1994 levels. Instead, NFL is proposing a modified sudden death where each team would get a possession if the team winning the toss kicked a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.
The USA Today (today) posted where teams stand on this issue. Count the Bears among the uncertain teams. They list 7 teams in support of the new OT rules, 4 teams opposed, with 5 undecided and 16 (including the Bears) as uncommitted. The new rule needs 24 votes to pass and based on how teams are lining up, I don’t think the measure will pass.
Brad Biggs did an excellent job staking out the position that the Bears should be opposed to the new rule. When you’re built on defense and special teams and boast one of the most accurate kickers ever, there’s no reason to vote for any changes. Over the last 10 years, the Bears are 11-3 in overtime games, including a 4-1 record when the first possession decides the game.