Reimagining NFL Overtime: Baseball-inspired Changes?

The Case for Revising NFL Overtime Rules: Giving Both Teams a Fair Chance

The NFL Playoff Game That Left Bills Fans Disheartened

The Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the Buffalo Bills in an overtime thriller at the NFL playoffs will forever be remembered as one of the greatest games in history. However, it also sparked controversy due to the current overtime rules that denied the Bills a fair opportunity to possess the ball on offense. To ensure fairness and avoid unjust outcomes, we propose that the NFL adopts a modified version of the MLB’s extra-inning rule, granting both teams equal possessions, including “last licks” for the home team.

An Absurd Coin Toss Determining Playoff Fate

The simplicity of a coin flip deciding the outcome of a playoff game seems absurd, especially when so much is at stake. For the Buffalo Bills, it meant the end of a magical season and their Super Bowl aspirations. Understandably, the disappointment and frustration were palpable among the Bills’ coaching staff and players. Coach Sean McDermott expressed the collective sentiment, acknowledging the feeling of hurt and disappointment within the team. Quarterback Josh Allen also recognized the rules in place and refrained from complaining, acknowledging that the outcome could have gone in their favor.

An Unfair Outcome Sparks Controversy

The Chiefs and Bills engaged in a classic shootout, captivating fans and creating unforgettable moments throughout the game. The contest featured a remarkable display of offensive prowess, with a combined total of 78 points scored and 25 points in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime. However, the overtime rules cast a shadow of injustice on the outcome. The Chiefs won the coin toss and were able to march down the field and score a touchdown, leaving the Bills without an opportunity to respond. This left Bills Mafia, the passionate fan base, feeling robbed of a potential trip to the Super Bowl.

Revising Overtime Rules: Learning from Baseball’s Extra Innings

The Need for Overtime Rule Changes

Recognizing the need for more equitable overtime rules, the NFL’s rules committee should take inspiration from the MLB’s extra-inning format. The previous sudden-death rule, where the team scoring first wins, created discontent when a quick field goal decided the outcome. The NFL has already made adjustments, eliminating the possibility of winning with a field goal on the first possession. However, further enhancements are necessary to ensure fairness and avoid scenarios where one team does not get a chance to respond.

Adopting Baseball’s Extra-Innings Format

We propose a revised overtime format that mirrors baseball’s extra innings. In this modified NFL format, both teams should have an opportunity to possess the ball at least once. Drawing inspiration from baseball, the visiting team would get the first possession in overtime. It doesn’t matter whether they choose to kick a field goal or go for a touchdown because the home team would receive possession regardless of the outcome. If the score remains tied at the end of the first possession resulting in a punt, turnover, or turnover on downs, both teams would continue to alternate possessions until there is a winner at the end of the home team’s possession.

Fairness and Excitement: The Benefits of Equal Possessions

Implementing this modified overtime rule would have had a significant impact on the Chiefs vs. Bills playoff game. Under the proposed format, the Bills would have had the opportunity to possess the ball first in overtime. This would have allowed us to witness if they could maintain their momentum and put points on the board. The Chiefs, on the other hand, would have had the chance to respond with their possession as the home team. Such a scenario could have potentially led to further overtime periods given the high-scoring nature of the game and the fatigue exhibited by both defenses.


The current playoff overtime rules in the NFL have faced criticism for their potential to deprive teams of a fair chance to win. By drawing inspiration from the MLB’s extra-inning rule and granting both teams equal possessions in overtime, the NFL can ensure fairness and enhance the excitement of playoff games. Revising the rules to allow for more opportunities to respond would alleviate the frustration felt by teams and fans alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are there any other sports that have overtime rules similar to the proposed NFL format?

A: Yes, besides baseball, other sports like ice hockey and soccer also have similar formats where both teams are given equal opportunities to possess the ball or puck in overtime.

Q: How would the revision of overtime rules impact regular-season games?

A: In regular-season games, ties are already allowed. However, under the proposed revised format, ties would be eliminated, and teams would continue to play until a winner is determined.

Q: Would this change the dynamics of the coin toss?

A: The coin toss would still play a role in determining which team starts with possession in overtime and which side of the field they defend. However, the outcome of the game would not rely solely on the result of the coin toss.

Q: How likely is the NFL to consider changing its overtime rules?

A: The NFL has shown a willingness to adjust its rules in the past, particularly when it comes to overtime. With growing discontent over the current system, it is possible that the league will take these concerns into consideration and explore potential revisions.

Q: Could equal possessions in overtime result in longer game durations?

A: While it is true that implementing equal possessions could lead to longer games, the excitement and fairness it brings outweigh the potential increase in duration. Fans and players alike would appreciate the opportunity for both teams to showcase their abilities, potentially leading to more memorable moments.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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