With the four days of games for the NFL Preseason in the books, we try and get an understanding of what the new rule might mean in placing NFL picks and working the sportsbooks betting odds.
Through Saturday, 15 exhibitions games (come on, that is what they are) have been played and coaches are not going overboard to check out the supposedly new and exciting way to add interest to the extra point. Thus far there has been 12 attempts with six conversions and two of the attempts came late in games to avoid the potential of a tie being the final result of the contest.
Thus, this is not being universally embraced at this time which is not a shocker. As a NFL football handicapper the first you realize is most head coaches in the preseason are more conservative than a hardcore Tea Party member and will often take the route in which they will receive the least amount of criticism, yet still make it seem like they played the percentages for the best outcome of the team.
Some Coaches Will Be More Brave than Others
The two most important elements for wanting to try two-point tries are either the surprise aspect or personnel edges. The coaches who are a little rouge and might be inclined to go for two are Chip Kelly (who frequently did at Oregon), Jason Garrett, Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy, Bill Belichick, Jeff Fisher and Pete Carroll. They guys have the most courage to do so and right or wrong, are safer in their jobs than most to take the heat if their team fails.
Look for most attempts to happen in the first quarter, as most coaches believe they can overcome the negative impact of failure. At all NFL camps, offensive coordinators are working to understand if they have the offensive line and power running back who can gain the necessary yards or the quarterback who can expertly place the ball where his best catcher can catch the ball at its highest peak.
One key element to understand, this might take awhile for coaches to embrace, no different than the 3-point shot in the NBA, which only in the last several years has been more widely understood as useful tool.
Do Not Discount the Other Element of Rule Change
While most of the talk of this new rule has centered around kicking longer extra points or going for two, wise head coaches are thinking about the other aspect of the rule. Teams that have speedy wide receivers who play in four receiver sets or defensive backs who come in nickel and dime packages might have a new weapon.
It would make sense for teams to use these players with a true desire to block extra point tries to set up scoop and score for two points. Teams will start scouting snap counts more and these edge players will try and anticipate getting the best jump possible. If this proves noteworthy, the unintended consequences are two-fold, possibly trying to block more field goal attempts also and the kicking teams working on kickers throwing passes into vacated areas for two points.
Oddsmakers Will Not Change, Nor Should You, for Now
Checked with some of my pals on the Vegas Strip and asked them to get opinions from those setting the NFL odds and the general response they will set the sides and totals the same way they have for years.
There were comments of key numbers like three or four carrying less importance possibly at some point and contests with spreads of one to two points could see more changes than previously, but they felt that was the problem those making the sports picks had to determine, not them.
In the end, this could matter, but it is more likely be important to the coaches making the in-game decisions and the players expected to execute than to most football bettors for a limited amount of games. The true impact might not be known for several seasons.