What Effect Will Shortened Overtime Have on Bettors?

nfl overtime

Jay Pryce

Monday, May 22, 2017 2:31 PM GMT

This week at the NFL spring meetings, owners are expected to approve one of the biggest changes to overtime in history by shortening it from 15 minutes to 10, supposedly in the name of player safety. What does that mean to you the bettor?

NFL owners are expected to approve a measure this week to trim regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes in the name of player safety. What does this mean for bettors? Most likely very little if wagering on a game-to-game basis. Win total or playoff futures could come into play. Investors will have to wait and see.

A majority of fans are reacting to news of the pending rule change unfavorably. For some, it usurps tradition. They ask: Why fix something that is not broken? For others, it’s seen as a lackluster effort by the league to address growing concern over player safety. Owners tabled this same proposal in March for reasons unknown. You can bet that five-minute loss of television viewership and potential concession sales factored in to the discussion. If they were serious about protecting talent, they would axe a meaningless preseason game or two, but then there is the revenue question. For what it’s worth, many coaches are chiming in in favor of the change.

The overwhelming concern for fans, however, is the rule may generate more ties. Sacrilege! They cry. Unlike soccer or hockey, there are no points awarded in this result. Moreover, it can make or break a playoff birth in a short 16-game season. This is what they fear the most, particularly with the recent two-possession rule change already extending the extra period from years past.

Honestly, a tie can sometimes make the playoff picture clearer. Ask any fan of a 9-7 team blocked from the postseason because they didn’t own a better combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed than their opponent. That is the No. 7 tiebreaker for a playoff birth. The Lions got in last season over the Buccaneers because they owned a higher winning percentage in common games (tiebreaker No. 3, by the way). The No. 12 tiebreaker is a coin toss! Let’s hope it never comes to that.

One can only speculate how the change will unravel on game day. Will coaches play more aggressive in a shorter span? Alternatively, will some turtle and call a more passive approach happy to secure a tie in a game they were expected to lose? The case can be made either way, and you can bet you’ll see both approaches unfold. Remember when everyone believed two-point attempts would skyrocket after moving the extra-point back? Me too. They didn’t. Let’s wait and see.

Since 1989, roughly 140 NFL regular-season contests stretched longer than 10 minutes in overtime. That averages out to five per year with a median number of 4.5. Remember, coaches weren’t pressing to win within specific time constraints, so this figure will drop. Guess how many ties occurred in this span? Only 10; though half of these have been since 2012 when the league instituted the two-possession rule.

There have been 83 regular-season overtime games in the last five seasons, and 22 of them lasted 10 or more minutes. There were two ties in the NFL last season: Cincinnati and Washington ended 27-27 in London, and Seattle and Arizona tied 6-6. In those ties, there were a total of three missed field goals (from 24, 38 and 34 yards) in the final 3:30 of each game.

Under the previous OT rules, the Cleveland Browns would have finished the 2016 season on a two-game winning streak with an overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Doing so would have cost them the No. 1 pick, meaning that former Texas A&M star Myles Garrett would be suiting up for the San Francisco 49ers now instead of for the Browns.

It’s fair to say bettors will likely see an extra tie per season, sometimes two, but rarely any more. For spread, over/under and in-game wagering, little will change. The sky is not falling. Though, your win total future may take a hit. Lean under if anything! Curse kickers if you lose your individual bet. Missed field goals tend to lead to overtime. Kickers have been perfect in just 19 percent of games leading to the extra period in the last 25 years.

The NFL last modified the OT rule five years ago. That change required that each team have a possession (or have a chance to possess the ball) unless the team that has the ball first scores a TD on its initial possession.