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NFL approves overtime rule change for playoffs only

The 49ers flirted with overtime this past season

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

There have been endless years of complaints from fans and analysts about how both teams deserve a chance to possess the ball in overtime. After one of the best games in recent memory between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills came down to overtime — where Bills QB Josh Allen never took a snap — the NFL has approved an overtime rule change.

The NFL owners decided by a reported vote of 29-3 to immediately change the game’s overtime rule for the postseason. Both offenses won’t get a chance to possess the ball if the initial possession results in a safety or defensive touchdown.

I’m sure you’ve seen this statistic before, but ten out of the previous 12 games were won by the team who received the ball first. It’s worth noting that seven of those were won in the opening possession. This feels like an overreaction to the Bills/Chiefs game.

I’m in the mindset that if you want the ball back, you should get a stop. First off, it’s not as if that was your only possession of the game to stop the opposing offense. And yes, I’m well aware that it’s not fair that only one defense has to get a stop.

The primary issue is the coin toss, to begin with. The most recent rule change favors the offense again and bails the defense giving up a touchdown. We’re not far off from changing to a college football overtime format where each team starts on the 25-yard line going in.

If you’re wondering why this rule change isn’t being implemented in the regular season, the coin toss winner has won 50% of the time since the league last changed its overtime rules back in 2010. That number climbed to 54% when the team shortened overtime from 15 minutes to ten minutes in 2017. That’s a staggering drop-off, but we also have to look at the sample size (12).

Remember, the following weekend, the Bengals stopped the Chiefs on the first possession in overtime and wound up winning the game. It’s a team sport. My initial thought was the league jumped the gun on this change, and the aforementioned overtime data supports that with a larger sample size, we would have likely seen that 10 out of 12 number even out.