How can we expect the New Extra Point Rule to affect the sports gamblers, NFL odds makers, sportsbooks and games themselves? And is there anything we can do about it?
In an effort to spruce up what has been an almost automatic and extremely boring proposition, NFL team owners voted last week to move the spot where (kicked) Extra Points after Touchdowns have traditionally taken place from the 2-yard-line back 13 yards to the 15-yard-line. And with NFL Kickers having reached the point where with years of practice and experience, kicking off modern artificial surfaces and often against ambivalent Defenses, Extra Points (PATs) and even 50-yard Field Goals have become all too commonplace in the NFL, the Rule Change is quite welcome. So, tradition be damned, and the new rule will take effect this coming 2015 NFL season. But what does this mean to NFL odds makers, sportsbooks and sports gamblers? At first, it seems like it’s really not that big of a deal, but after much thought, the feel here is that the new Rule Change will definitely get the desired effect of more entertaining and less predictable games, and will also create massive chaos for everyone involved from the players on the gridiron to the guy trying to hit a 5-team, $5 parlay.
Will we see some coaches prefer to go for the 2 points from the 2-yard line, where the ball will still be placed if Offenses which just scored a TD want to go for the 2 points? And what if a team’s Kicker starts missing like 20% to 30% of his PATs from the new sport from the 15, which amounts basically to 33-yard kick with the 10 yards or end zone and 8 yards added on from that yard line (15) where the ball will be snapped? Will teams start going for the 2 points then? Will some Kickers gain reputations (and potentially lose their jobs) because they can’t consistently bang home this new (improved) 33-yard PAT? And is kicking from 33 yards out now actually a disadvantage for some of the NFL teams who play their Home games in the Cold Weather cities like the Buffalo Bills (50/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) and the Green Bay Packers (6/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) do and a hidden advantage for teams that play in Domes like the Minnesota Vikings (60/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets), St. Louis Rams (45/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) and Dallas Cowboys (16/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets)? And will that change the way those teams look at Extra Points in the coming season?
Let’s think about some of the potential realities that can and will evolve from this Rule Change which at the surface seems it like will make for a more entertaining game for the Casual Fan but maybe for a more stressful and choppy one for Coaches, Players, Kickers, Odds makers, Sportsbooks and those who place NFL picks. The thought that this won’t have a big impact on the NFL game as we know it seems a bit shortsighted. It definitely will.
What Does It All Mean and How Will it Affect Everything?
Besides just attempting Extra Points from 33 yards out instead of 20 yards, and the reality many teams may elect to go for 2 at times—especially later in games (3rd and 4th Quarters) because of the Mathematical Realities they are chasing or looking to attain (if ahead)—for example a team down by 5 because of previous missed/made TD/FG/PAT attempts will obviously be going for 2 when time (left in the game) dictates they do so—there are a couple of other realities that will evolve from the defense’s perspective. Any block, fumble or interception that results in the Defense going 85+ yards the other way for a score will result in 2 points for the Defense. A very fair and needed rule change and one that opens up the potential for some entertainment on Extra Points (PATs), with defenses now obviously trying harder on before what seemed like meaningless, robotic plays with thoughts of being able to now score 2 points themselves and actually turn what could have been an 8-point increase in the Offenses’ team’s score (6 points + 2 points = +8) into just a +4 point reality should the team that just scored have it’s 2-point conversion attempt failed and be returned the other way for 2 points (6 points Offense scored minus the 2 Points the Defense scored = +4).
The effect of this particular Rule Change on the game will be immense, and again, it seems like it will be wonderful for the Casual Fan watching at home with no bets or no fantasy action, but for those really involved, this will increase Randomness in the NFL in a very large way and surely increase Blood Pressures. About four to 10 plays (Extra Points attempts after TDs) will be going from automatic +1’s for everyone involved in The Past to 0s, +1s, +2’s, -2’s and maybe even a -1 (we’ll talk about that below) in the rare instance with these new changes now.
One reason that this is all so significant is the fact that NFL Kickers pounded home PATS 99% of the time in the 2014 NFL season. And off the top 20 FG Kickers (based on % of FGs made) in the league last year, only the Bills Dan Carpenter (31-32 PATs, 96.9%) and the Packers Mason Crosby (53-55 PATs, 96.4%) actually missed PAT attempts. ”Automatic” is and has been a pretty good word to describe Extra Point (Point After) Attempts in the NFL for a very long time now with NFL Kickers converting 3,691 of 3,709 XP Attempts (18 misses) over the last three seasons. Kickers converted on 91% of Field Goal Attempts from (exactly) 33 yards out last season, so this Rule Change actually makes sense on paper and from a distance and from an entertainment POV, but whether or not it will remain, be changed or someday be moved back to the way it was remains to be seen. It will likely stick and may be tweaked though the future.
So this year will be Year One in the NFL’s Labs, and we can expect all sort of strange fumes and pink clouds floating about as everyone realizes how much this changes each game if some Head Coaches and Offensive Coordinators actually do get aggressive with their 2-point Extra Point game, ala the University of Oregon in NCAA College Football. And some will. Last season, teams in the NFL went for 2 points just 5% of the time. Expect that percentage to possibly quadruple with some teams, although a trend toward conservatism and “seeing how this all works” from coaches is to be expected in the early months (September and October) of the season. One thing’s for sure too: This will affect Offensive Coordinators, Defensive Coordinators and Special Teams Coaches alike and dramatically increase Pepto-Bismol sales in the lower 48 United States.
Will We See Our First 1-Point Saftey in the 2015 NFL Season?
Although probability says that it might happen just once, maybe twice and possibility even not at all in this first season with these new Extra Point Rule Changes, there is now a chance we could see the first 1-point Safety—for the Offensive team and against the Defensive team (when the play starts). Should a Defensive player get the ball through Fumble or Interception in the field of play and then take the ball into his own end zone (in an effort to move forward upfield) and then be tackled, then the Offense will get the 1 point in the rarest of rare, but now possible, Safeties. This has never happened in the NFL before, but don’t go looking for it in 2015 although one or two could pop up and make some NFL history. But with teams now likely to be going for 2 points (from the 2-yard line) that much more, a defender intercepting a ball on the 1-yard line and then cutting back through his own end zone in an effort to return it to glory and get the (new) 2 points for his Defense and being tackled in the end zone is actually a possibility, though remote. It will definitely take some time for the players, as well as the coaches, to understand this new rule and its implications and to start trying to use it to their advantage. And expect teams like the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (+700 to win Super Bowl, bet365) and wily Head Coach Bill Belichick, the Seattle Seahawks (+450 to win Super Bowl, bet365) and Head Coach Pete Carroll and former Oregon and now Philadelphia Eagles (18/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) Head Coach Chip Kelly to be at the cutting edge of this potential NFL 2-Point XP Attempt Revolution.
This Rule Change and how much it affects everything could really end up catching many people off guard, although the NFL Preseason should give everyone involved some Time on the Learning Curve before the NFL Season officially kicks off on September 10 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) between the aforementioned Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers (Patriots -2½, Total: 48½, GTBets). From a sports gambling POV, the setting of Totals will probably change a little, but as to whether this will increase overall scoring is too hard to tell from this Spring distance. Points lost on theoretical missed PATs from 33 yards out will probably be recouped on successful overall 2-point PAT Attempts and my general feel is it may end up increasing scoring just slightly, maybe between 0.3 and 0.7 points a game overall, but nothing oddsmakers can’t easily adjust to by moving a number up (or down) a half or full point.
It will probably scare them (oddsmakers) a bit at first, knowing that this sheer Randomness could make their decades-long numbers subject to so much more Volatility—especially with the advent of Live wagering—but they need to remember that they have been doing this for years, have teams of oddsmakers and have the “House” (and the money) and the 97% reality on their sides over The Long Run. The Rule Change will mean probably mean that we will all lose some bets we probably have won before (by missed or made PATs from 33 yards out or 2-point XP Attempts that are either good or fail) and we will all win some bets we probably would have lost before. And it seems no sport’s point spread is as refined and accurate as the NFL’s, so they have that also on their side heading in.
But there’s really not much oddsmakers can do in terms of the Sides here, not knowing which team in any given game will be in a position to go for 2-point Extra Points instead of the 33-yard 1-point PATs. Over Time, certain patterns will develop, but all of this is still open to just way, way, too much Randomness—play calls, Referee’s calls, bad calls, point deficits, motivation, weather, team tendencies and on and on—to try to build in a ½ or 1 or 2 points into a point spread for a given NFL team in a given NFL game. With this change, it seems the Oddsmakers, Sportsbooks, Sports Gamblers and Fantasy Players will all have to learn and evolve together week-by-week this season, with expectations of way more 2-more PAT attempts on the immediate horizon. It should be fun and make the games more entertaining in the NFL, something often lost on the rabid sports bettor always buried in his or her bets.
NFL Week 1 Pick: Patriots -2½ over Steelers (GTBets)