It has been a hot minute since writing anything. After the eye popping, mind blowing and face melting weekend of football we just witnessed, here I am. Holy shit, what a weekend!
All four matchups end in walkoff fashion. You literally couldn’t write it better. It was incredible and completely unexpected historically speaking. The Divisional Round is notorious for having lopsided affairs. In fact, since the merger in 1966, there have been a grand total of 25 games being decided by 30 or more points, 14 of which have been in the divisional round. If history tells us anything, we were bound to get one lopsided affair. Instead, we got the opposite.
The average margin of victory was 3.8 points, making it the lowest margin of victory in NFL playoff history in a round comprised of 4 games. INSANITY!
Rookie Kicker, Evan McPherson lead the league in 50+ yard field goals and he did it again from 52 sending the Bengals to the AFC Championship. The field goal was set up with a beautiful 19 yard dart from Burrow to Chase (surprise surprise!).
Then, the 49ers came up big on special teams to tie it up at 10 at Lambaugh against the Packers. After forcing another 3 and out, the Niners ate the remaining time setting up a 45 yarder for veteran Robbie Gould.
Next, the Rams blew a 27-3 lead channeling their inner Falcons as Tom Brady was about to pull off yet another comeback. Matt Stafford said not today after hitting his go-to-guy, Cooper Kupp, on a 20 and 44 yarder setting up the Matt Gay Field Goal as the clock hit 0:00.
Lastly, the granddaddy of them all. Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen just doing what they do. These fucking dudes lead their teams to 25 points in 2 goddamn minutes. After the Bills answered Tyreek Hill’s long TD and the savagery of the deuces with a reservation for 6 of their own, the magic didn’t end. With 13 seconds to go, Andy Reid tells Patrick Mahomes “when things are grim, be the grim reaper.” By God, he did. Three plays 44 yards setting up the Butker field goal. We get OT!
Then of course, the Chiefs walk it off with a TD on the first possession.
Normally, I’d be like fuck, Brady lost. It’s hard to be mad at anything that happened after seeing what I just saw this weekend.
The biggest elephant in the room is of course Josh Allen and the Bills. Allen was beyond brilliant on Sunday. It sucks that he didn’t get a chance to win the game. One of the big talking points of Monday was changing the OT rules.
I don’t have any sort of polarizing take on it. The rules are the rules. It sucks we didn’t get more when all I wanted was more.
Literally cancel the playoffs and give me a best of 7 between Bills and Chiefs and that’s the Super Bowl. That game was nuts. We have seen great QBs on the receiving end of that same treatment. Mahomes is one of them.
Before getting into the ideas regarding OT, I want to talk about how we got to this version of OT for a second.
While the NFL catches heat from fans, it is the most well run professional sports league in the US, period. It is second to none. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is perfect. There are plenty of things I could rail on the NFL for. The taunting rule, for example, is absolutely fucking silly. Onside kicks need to go. We can talk about the problems another day.
One of the things I love about the NFL, they are more calculated and less reactionary when they need to be. A prime example of them being reactionary is the PIs being able to be challenged last year. And it was an absolute shit show. It should have never been a thing. Refs are an easy target and the poo poo on the officials shtick is beyond old. I love watching games and hearing people scream after the 97th angle in slow motion how it was such an obvious call. Was it really? Calm down you looney tune.
That being said, they have had discussions and proposals on new OT and it does need to happen STAT. It was only about a decade ago that OT in the NFL was a true sudden death. The NFL really began to evaluate that after the Saints and Vikings NFC Championship in which Brett Favre threw a costly INT on a potential game winning drive. He never touched the ball again after the Saints won the toss and kicked a 40 yarder to win it.
The current rule was passed with a 28-4 ruling making it kind of sudden death with the other team still having a chance. When the change was made, it was the right call. The game has just evolved so much in the last decade that QBs are too good. Offenses are too good. In fact, 90% of the playoff games that went to OT, the team who won the toss went on to win the game. Nearly 70% of them scored a TD on the first drive.
The current OT rule was originally implemented for playoffs only before becoming a regular season mainstay.
Options Proposed by Teams?
Since 2010, there have been several proposals around the league for OT rules.
In 2017, a shortened OT rule was passed. The period went from the normal 15 minutes down to 10 minutes.
In 2019, after Mahomes had the same thing happen, the Chiefs proposed that both teams get the ball at least once. They also proposed dropping the coin toss and going off the initial coin toss. The team who won the original toss decides to kick or receive.
In 2020, the Eagles proposed dropping the coin toss altogether. Instead, opting for the team that scored the most touchdowns gets the ball to start OT. If both teams had the same amount of TDs, then it would go to a flip. Their reasoning was competitive equity.
In 2021, the Eagles and Ravens both proposed the spot and choose rule. This rule would involve a coin toss. The winner would get to decide one of two of things, they can decide between offense and defense or they decide where to spot the ball. For example, a team could choose to receive the ball, but then their opponent could choose to spot the ball at their own 1-yard line, making it necessary for the team on offense to drive the length of the field to score. Conversely, a team could choose to spot the ball on their own 15-yard line and that would force their opponent to make the difficult choice about whether they’d like to be on offense or defense.
What I Want to See
Of course there is the obvious and what most of the fans are saying, go to College style OT. I have never been on board with it. I honestly don’t have any merit to why I am not. My gut just says it will be bland in the NFL. If they did decide to do that, I would prefer teams start from the 35 or 40.
Bottom line, I want something outside the box like the spot and choose rule. I love that the spot and choose adds an element of gamesmanship to the equation and could make for some exciting action and decisions.
There have also been rumblings of a field goal gamble. Similar to the spot and choose, determining who gets the ball comes down to a field goal. The home team would pick a distance for a field goal that would decide who gets the ball first. The away team would then decide which team has to attempt the field goal. Make the kick, you get the ball. Miss the kick, the other team gets the ball.
However, here would my favorite option…
A conversion shootout.
Although I think most soccer purists hate shootouts, I love them. I would love to see something similar in the NFL. It would create suspense, anxiety and it would be quick, easy and quite frankly, fun. There are a number of possibilities and ways to run with this.
Let’s start with the baseline for how it would work. Start with the coin toss or even the kicker gamble to determine who gets decide offense or defense first.
Option A: 5 tries from the 2 yard line, just like a 2-point conversion. The team who converts the most, wins. Even if you wanted to push that back to the 5, it would still be fun.
Option B: 2 attempts from 2 yard line, 2 from the 5 yard line and 1 from the 10 yard line. The team who converts the most, wins.
Option C: Dealer’s choice and point values, the team gets to decide where they want to attempt from. They can attempt it from the 2 yard line, 5 yard line or the 10 yard line. A successful 2 yard conversion is 1 point. A successful 5 yard conversion is 2 points. A successful 10 yard conversion is 3 points. Yes, I absolutely stole the point system from college flag football intramurals. The team who has the most points wins. The minor difference in this one is that the teams would flip offense and defense like the college OT.