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Halo 01-07-2011 02:50 PM

The new NFL overtime rules come into play this weekend, do you know them?
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The Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs begins on Saturday, and there will be four total games throughout the weekend. Eight teams are vying for their chances to get to the divisional round and face one of the top two seeds. Things are looking a little different this year as head into the playoffs and it's time to make sure everyone is caught up.

With the first game of the playoffs (New Orleans Saints Vs. Seattle Seahawks), the NFL will institute a brand new set of overtime rules. No longer are the "sudden death" implications there meaning that 90% of a team's hope is relying on the coin toss. In all actuality, you still kind of want to win the toss to be honest with you, but more on that in a bit. Let's first check out the new overtime rules so everyone knows what's going on.

I'm talking to you Donovan McNabb.
  1. A coin toss determines who will get the ball first to start the extra 15 minute overtime period.
  2. If the team to get the ball first goes down and scores a field goal, then the opposing team gets their chance with the ball. If the second team also gets a field goal, then the ball goes back over to the first team again. At this point it becomes "sudden death" with the first team to score winning.
  3. A touchdown scored at any point ends the game even if it means only one team gets possession of the ball in overtime.

Have you got all that?

There are a lot of questions left unanswered which leads one to believe the NFL has that covered but merely hasn't revealed it all yet. At least, that's the hope we all have so that we're not standing there as confused as the referees when something random happens.

For instance, what happens if a team gets a safety? Does a turnover essentially end a team's chance or will they get another if the team causing the turnover gets a goal? Is there really that much of a difference by going to "sudden death" if each team gets a field goal? Sure you can say that both teams got their chance with the ball, but wasn't that what the first sixty minutes was for?

I'm still curious what happens if the 15 minute overtime period ends and both teams are still knotted up. Does everything start over or is still first team to score wins?

One thing everyone must remember is that the new rule clearly states that each team is guaranteed only "an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime." So say the Jets kick a field goal in overtime and then the Colts' kick returner fumbles the ball during his run back which is recovered by the Jets...that's game over folks and a New York victory.

In all actuality, we may not even have to worry about these new rules, but it's good to at least know them should an overtime period occur within this final month of play. The way this crazy NFL season has gone, you can almost bet that some random occurrence would happen making for a huge controversy. At least now you're prepared.

Well, sort of.


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