NFL owners on Tuesday passed a rule change that could affect a handful of games in the 2017 season as players will no longer be allowed to leap over linemen to try to block field goals and extra-point attempts. What might this mean?
The team this rule change hurts the most, at least off the top of my head, would be the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the current NFL betting favorites to repeat. That’s because they have one of the best kick-blockers in the NFL in Shea McClellin, a former first-round linebacker bust of the Chicago Bears. McClellin blocked two kicks last season by leaping over a lineman: a field goal against the Baltimore Ravens and an Atlanta Falcons extra point in Super Bowl LI -- but drawing a penalty in the process.
The reason the NFL owners on Tuesday decided to ban players from leaping over linemen to block kicks was the league believes the play is too dangerous and a player could get flipped over and seriously injured. The rule change was sparked by a proposal from the Philadelphia Eagles and was backed by the NFL Players Association. Head of officiating Dean Blandino cited several examples of players being flipped over and landing on their heads during the play during a recent conference call.
The most famous and game-changing case of this happening last year was Denver Broncos rookie Justin Simmons winning a game with a blocked extra point in New Orleans. After New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees hit with Brandin Cooks for a touchdown pass to tie the game at 23-all late in the fourth quarter, the Saints lined up for the PAT. Leaping over the center on the try, Simmons blocked the kick and safety Will Parks recovered the ball and ran it back to the opposing end zone to give the Broncos two points, securing Denver a 25-23 win.
The New York Jets led the NFL in having field goals blocked last year with three. The Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints each had two. The worst PAT team was Minnesota, which missed seven of 33. Seattle had a league-high five PATs blocked. Meanwhile, only five teams made every PAT last season: Dallas, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the LA Rams.
So it’s possible this new rule eliminates a few blocked field goals or PATs a season, maybe affects a total or two and gives the kickers a rare benefit in a league that is minimizing special teams whenever possible.Bet On NFL Futures At SBR's Top Sportsbooks