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NFL Overtime Bid System? Absolutely.

In: Sports

Posted By: Doc Holliday at 4:59 pm

8 Jul 2009


.  “A Better Way to Decide Overtime in the N.F.L.”

Teams that win the coin flip have an advantage and win more games. The losing team frequently doesn’t get a chance to touch the ball. Life isn’t fair, and this system isn’t either.  Last season, the Patriots lost to the Jets on the first overtime possession after losing the coin flip. New England finished 11-5 and just missed the playoffs. In the playoffs, the Chargers defeated the Colts by scoring on their first possession after winning the coin flip.

If the system is not changed, a team will eventually win the Super Bowl on the first possession after winning the overtime coin flip.  Uh-oh.  People (especially those people who rooted for the losing team) will look up to the heavens, shake their fists and say: How come we haven’t fixed this?!  So why not fix it now?  Several conventional solutions have been proposed: (1.) Play a full OT quarter (2.) Use the NCAA system (3.) Give each team one offensive possession – if still tied, go to the old sudden death system.

But each of those plans lacks something.  A swift conclusion is preferable; longer games mean more injuries.  No one likes ties.  Keeping N.F.L. tradition is important.  Besides, the drama of the present system is fine; it’s the fairness issue that needs adjustment.  Dozens of ideas are out there, including moving the kickoff to the 40 to neutralize the advantage of the coin-flip winners.  But one idea seems to stand above the others (at least in my opinion, and feel free to disagree) — a plan created in 2003 by an engineer and Packers fan named Chris Quanbeck:

 Quanbeck’s idea was to auction off possession of the ball in the natural currency of the game: field position.  The team that was willing to begin closest to its own goal line would receive the privilege of possession.  The “Silent Auction” – Each coach writes down a yard-line at which they would elect to start their offense.  The numbers are given to the referee in sealed envelopes; whichever coach picked the lower yard-line wins the auction and gets the ball first.  The game plays out in sudden death.

Fairness and drama — those are two requisites of any sport.  As with the N.F.L.’s replay challenges and tennis’s Hawk-Eye challenges, the auction system aims for justice and for fan appeal. The sealed bids add strategy and suspense. The system would lead to more second-guessing of coaches, which would be more fun for everybody except coaches (which is why it will be difficult to get this through the competition committee).  How can this not be better for the league and its fans?

So let me get this straight.  An advantage-inducing, unpopular coin flip would be replaced by an impartial, unpredictable, and flat-out riveting secret ballot gamble?  Where do I sign up?  There is absolutely no downside to this plan from a fan’s perspective.  No question it would be extremely difficult to get NFL coaches to agree to such a method.  Mangini would be sweating like a cat in a Master Wok if he had to make a bid during a game.  But Belichick, on the other hand, would go undefeated in overtime games for the rest of his career if this rule were adopted.

The question is…would he use jedi mind tricks (see banner photo) on the other coaches, let them panic with a low bid (I’m thinking an own-10 bid) while he puts down his own high bid (I’m thinking an own-35 bid), and then just let the Pats defense dominate their way into a forced punt and good field position?  Or would Billy man up and just place an own-5 bid every game knowing Brady’s gonna march the boys downfield at will?  What do you think?

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  • The Jiggler

    I think that Doc Holliday is a great contributer. Fantastic article and write up.
    Belichick would dominate, he is Mr. Strategy. This makes OT into sort of a game show but not in a bad way, in a “keep fans and teams on their toes” way. It also allows for special preparation in practice and different yard line choices each time it happens. I hope this eventually goes in.

  • Mangini

    I think Belichick missed the playoffs this year.

  • Noah

    I think this is a non-issue. If a team doesn't want their trip to the Super Bowl decided by a coin-toss then they should score more points during regulation. If they are so evenly matched against their opponent that the game goes into OT, and they can not stop the other team on the opening OT drive then they probably don't deserve the championship anyway.

  • Poor taste

    What about this, the team with more timeouts remaining as the time expires wins gets the ball first. This would make the timeout more valuable, and the team who was scrambling on a last second drive (who is probably the worse team or had the worse game) doesn't get to have the ball first.

  • littlearth

    NFL on the snow, that's a chilling ride… :D

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