The 2016 MLB World Series was an all-timer, and had it been an NFL game, it never would have happened. The NFL overtime structure is due for a change and they could take a few lessons from Major League Baseball. The Chicago Cubs were up three runs in the eighth inning but the Cleveland Indians battled back to tie the game. After both teams went scoreless in the ninth inning, the game proceeded to extra innings. In the top of the tenth inning the Chicago Cubs took the lead on a double-play by Ben Zobrist.
By the NFL’s standard of overtime, that would have been the ballgame. The Cleveland Indians wouldn’t have had a chance to come back in the bottom of the tenth. They didn’t catch up to the Cubs and so the Cubs won the World Series.
The point is, Cleveland had its opportunity to force another inning and even to win it in the tenth. If only Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons had been so fortunate.
The NFL has yet to figure out an overtime system that allows its highest paid players to go back and forth. Imagine an overtime system in any other sport where the league’s MVP that season wasn’t afforded the opportunity to have an impact on the outcome of the game once it had gone into overtime.
It simply doesn’t happen.
In the National Hockey League it’s a rarity for one team to possess the puck in overtime in the playoffs and win on their first possession.
In Major League Baseball, both teams get an equal amount of at-bats to try to win the game.
The National Basketball Association plays five-minute overtime periods during the regular season to decide a game.
FIFA plays an extra 30 minutes of time before deciding the game on penalty kicks. And still, each team gets equal opportunity to win the game.
The NFL allows games to be decided without its highest profile players having an opportunity to match their counterpart.
Roger Goodell, you can fix this.
College football’s overtime isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is far superior to what the NFL overtime currently is.
Each team in college football gets an untimed possession starting in the opposing teams territory.
- If team A scores a touchdown and team B scores a touchdown; tie game, do it again.
- If team A scores a touchdown and team B fails to score, game over.
- If team A scores a field goal and team B scores a touchdown; game over.
Whoever ends the period with the highest score wins the game. It’s simple and straightforward and it gives both teams an equal opportunity to win the game. Instead the NFL’s rules leave the league MVP on the sideline, resigned to the fact that he didn’t have an opportunity in overtime to impact the game.
I’ve heard arguments that the Falcons defense should have stopped them, and those people aren’t wrong; under the current rules, that’s the way football goes. But it doesn’t change the fact that NFL overtime rules are weak.
Here’s my solution…
Adopt the overtime system used in college football and put each team at the 50 yard line. Overtime will be played in “periods” with each team getting a possession. When a period finishes with one team having a higher score, that’s the winner.
A sport is at its best when the top competitors have the opportunity to outdo one another.
All that said, I think the New England Patriots were still going to win the game because they were playing really good football, while the Atlanta Falcons weren’t playing great. The Atlanta Falcons and their MVP quarterback, Matt Ryan still should’ve had a chance to impact the game in overtime.
It’s time for a change.
The NFL has made many rule changes over the years to make the game more offensive and appealing to the fans. This should be the next one. While the outcome may have been appealing to one fanbase, it left another feeling like they didn’t get a fair shot in the overtime period.
According to the Google Trends database of the most searched Super Bowl LI team by state, the disappointed fanbase was far more popular. An otherwise meaningless stat that may hold some clue as to why the NFL has seen a decline in ratings.
NFL, don’t leave your MVPs on the sideline to watch helplessly as their defense folds. That’s no way to decide a championship.