Potential Rule Changes Could Affect NFL Betting

Jason Lake

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8:03 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 8:03 PM UTC

America needs change – change we can believe in. The NFL is going through a transformation, and that means we need to revisit our NFL betting strategies for 2014 and beyond.

Jason’s final record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14:

49-41-2 ATS (+7.7 units)

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

16-20-1 Totals (–5.6 units)

Total units won: +2.81

ROI: +2.15%

This is not the NFL we grew up with. Every generation brings change along with it, in every facet of life, and football is no exception. You can see it anytime you fire up the old tee-vee or jump on the YouTubes to watch a clip from the NFL archives. Players are bigger now, faster and more violent. Offenses and defenses are more complex. Cheerleaders wear less and less clothing.

NFL betting strategies have to evolve in turn. For example, the UNDER used to be the sharp default bet when it came to football totals, but at least for now, the OVER has the advantage in today’s high-scoring NFL. A lot of that has to do with rule changes that protect not only the quarterback, but his receivers as well. What does the next wave of proposed changes hold in store for us?

Point Taken

The biggest proposed change, at least at the surface level, is the removal of the point after touchdown. Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on the NFL Network last month and said that the league’s Competition Committee might abolish the extra point, since it’s become virtually automatic (99.1 percent over the past decade), and replace it with some other kind of scoring system. 

It doesn’t look like this change will come into effect for 2014. St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, who is also on the Competition Committee, went on ESPN Radio last week and said the committee had not discussed the issue – it was Goodell basically going

rogue and floating the idea himself. But the course has been charted. We’ll have to wait and see what actual changes are made before we can judge their potential impact, but don’t be surprised if we see a lot more 2-point conversions in the future. 

Getting rid of the PAT would also fit with the league’s longer-term vision of eliminating the kick-off. This will be a difficult change to engineer, since it directly affects the employment of dozens of special teams players, but it seems inevitable. The kick-off return is one of the most dangerous plays in football, and now that the kick is taking place on the 35-yard line instead of the 30, the touchback has already become commonplace. Perhaps we’ll see less scoring in the future if teams are always starting at their own 25, like they did at the 2014 Pro Bowl.

This Heading Is Under Review

While kick-offs have been part of the game since olden tymes, the NFL review system has only been around since 1986, and everybody wants changes to be made. Goodell has been looking at the way the NHL handles video review from a centralized “Situation Room” in Toronto, and has told NFL owners that something similar is in the works.

This could, and almost certainly will, have far more impact than the removal of the kick-off or the PAT. Again, it depends on the implementation, but a centralized review system brings the role of the on-field officials into question. It also opens up the possibility of having every play reviewed in real-time. The ridiculous red challenge flag would surely become a thing of the past. 

We’ll have some more clarification on these proposed changes when the NFL holds its owners meeting next month in Orlando. We can also expect the usual tweaks in interpretation of the rules regarding hits, specifically those with the largest safety risks. Defenders were heavily penalized in 2013 for a wide variety of hits that were once considered both legal and desirable. That trend should only increase in 2014 – and scoring should continue to rise as a result. Are you ready for some flag football?

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