New Playoff Rule Going Into Effect This Year


With all the discussion surrounding the Seahawks, who are the first NFL playoff team with a sub-.500 record, some people may have missed the new playoff rule going into effect this year.  The new rule will only affect the outcome of overtime game.  In the past all overtime games were decided by sudden death and could end in as little as one possession on a field goal.  This will not be the case in 2011.

The new rule states that if Team A receives the opening overtime kickoff and makes a field goal on their first possession, the game is not over.  They must kickoff to Team B, who has some options.

If Team B scores a touchdown, the game is over and Team B wins.

If Team B fails to score and turns the ball over, Team A wins.

If Team B makes a field goal, the game will continue under the old sudden death rules and the next team to score any points wins.

Basically it further breaks down to, if a team scores a touchdown or a safety (even on the first possession), the game is over.  There are plenty of other onside kick, interception, fumble and safety scenarios that could play out, but the NFL says that each team needs to have a chance to possess the ball.  For instance, if Team A win the coin toss, elects to kick and recovers an onside kick or Team B’s kick returner fumbles and Team A recovers, Team A can win the game with a FG or TD. The receiving team had lost its chance to possess the ball when it did not successfully recover/keep possession of the kick.  Yeah, kinda confusing.

I’m really interested to see what strategies are used under this new rule.  It’s going to make teams more likely to use onside kicks and go for it on 4th down for a chance to win a game.  It’s kind of strange that the NFL chose to implement this rule in the playoffs first, rather than the regular season.  I can see a Super Bowl decided by this rule and lots of people getting really pissed about it.  Well, I guess we will just have to wait and see.  The way the Bears season has been going, they will end up winning a game because of this new rule and the “lucky” talk will be abound yet again.