Tuesday, May 23, 2017

So Here's Something Stupid

Everyone pretty much agrees that the NFL organization is flawed in many ways and that the game of football itself is pretty much perfect. (Except for the whole thing where the players get concussions and die early. But I meant just the gameplay.)

Today, the NFL made a drastic change to overtime cutting it from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. The move will make more games end a tie. Many people have discussed if the NFL should adopt the NCAA overtime rules where teams alternate possessions. I just read a 538 piece talking about that and it referred to that as baseball-style alternating possessions.

This is where we get to the stupid part.

I first thought that the NFL might in the near future switch to the NCAA overtime rules. It would likely be very popular. It's both pretty fair and has lots of scoring. Tons of fantasy points. People like scoring and fantasy points.

All of this is very realistic. The next part is not realistic in the near future at all. But on the scale of 100 or 200 years, it's possible. It's also stupid. I feel like I've covered that.

The NFL in it's infinite wisdom could decide to switch the entire game to have alternating possessions that start at the 50, 40, or even 25.

Let's see what this would look like. 

Currently teams get about 10 possessions each per game, many of them starting around their own 20. Switching to a system where teams get 10 possessions each starting at the 50, by itself would increase scoring. I've always preferred starting on the 50 (vs the 25) because it takes work to get into field goal range. So you have the real possibility of 7, 3 or 0 points. Starting on the 25 almost makes the 3pts automatic.

You would still have a halftime after the 5th possession. What you wouldn't have is a game clock at all. No more two minute warning or hurry up offense to work the clock. No spikes to waste a down.

Here's what also goes away: all punts. Drives will either end in a touchdown, field goal or a 4th down attempt (or turnover). No more kickoffs. You'll still have field goals and extra points but that's it for special teams. No returns outside of turnovers. (By eliminating most special teams plays, it would probably make the game slightly safer, which increasing the possibly of this stupid thing ever happening.)

By starting on the 50, safeties would be incredibly rare.

Gone is any sort of "field position battle."

Defenses could still score on a pick six or fumble scoop n score. But an interception return that gets tackled at the 1 is no better than a 4th down stop. What that means is defenses would be incentivized to return any turnovers for scores, potentially creating more laterals.

In today's game after a pick-six, the team that scores kicks off. In this system, the team that scores would get the ball for their possession, creating opportunities for double scoring.

The biggest downside is that an early blowout could be more easily protected, with less chances for late game comebacks. But not impossible.

Anything I missed? Your thoughts?

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