The NFL heads into the third weekend of the 2018 season within touching distance of history it would rather not make.
With Weeks 1 and 2 both having seen thrilling ties, one more would see 2018 become the first year in which there have been three ties in a single season since overtime was adopted in 1974.
Ties are an outcome that prompt bemusement in the world of American sports. The NFL is the only one of the four major sporting leagues in which they are possible and when they occur they are regularly greeted with disdain.
Though a tie is treated as superior to a loss when it comes to the standings, there is still little in the way of benefit to either team when a game finishes even. And yet the NFL's overtime rules in their current guise increase the likelihood of ties.
The league in 2017 cut the length of the overtime period from 15 minutes to 10. Both teams have a chance to score, unless the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown on the first possession, but the reduced time in which they have to do it has proved key in the opening two weeks of the season as there have been ties between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, largely down to the failings of various kickers.
Minnesota and Cleveland have since parted with the kickers in question, Daniel Carlson and Zane Gonzalez, the latter having cost the Browns in their Week 2 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Yet no kicker can ever be without fault and, for a league that has suffered numerous public relations hits in recent times, it seems clear that the best course of action would be to remove the possibility of a result from which fans gain no pleasure and reduce the chances of engrossing contests being decided by one swing of the leg.
1971 - The last time there were ties in Week 1 and Week 2 of a #NFL season:— OptaJerry (@OptaJerry) September 17, 2018
Miami Dolphins 10 - Denver Broncos 10 (Sept. 19, 1971)
Los Angeles Rams 20 - Atlanta Falcons 20 (Sept. 26, 1971)
NFL coordinators are increasingly looking towards the college game for innovations to their gameplans, and the league would be wise to do the same and copy its overtime rules, which see each team given the ball on the 25-yard line in an untimed period that continues until a winner is determined. If the two teams are still tied after each team has had two possessions, they then must attempt a two-point conversion rather than an extra point after they score a touchdown.
Kickers can still decide a game, but in college the emphasis in overtime is firmly on the offense. The adoption of such rules in the NFL would be fitting as the league continues to trend towards more high-scoring affairs with recent player safety rule changes making defenses' jobs ever more difficult.
Introducing an overtime period that would keep players on the field for an undetermined period of time would appear to fly in the face of efforts to improve player safety. However, by abandoning the kick-off in overtime, the NFL would also be removing the play the league identified as the one that causes the most concussions.
That would appear to be a trade-off most players would accept given the collective dismissive attitude towards ties. Such a move would also make commercial sense for the NFL by keeping more television viewers glued to games that go into overtime for longer. Ties do nothing for the NFL and their removal from the league is long overdue. The NFL gets its future stars and an increasing number of plays from college, to eradicate the inconvenience of the tie, it should look to the same source.
|Nets top Lakers in Brooklyn, extend winning streak to six games|
|LeBron on Lakers potentially acquiring Davis: That would be amazing|
|Rain helps Sri Lanka claim draw against New Zealand|
|Mourinho had to ´take the consequences´, says Klopp|
|Ausilio: Icardi has offer on table, won´t be sold to Juve|
|Chargers lead NFL Pro Bowl selections, Brees named NFC starting QB|
|Pro Bowl 2019: Chargers lead NFL with 7 selections, Drew Brees named NFC starting QB|
|Savea re-signs with All Blacks, Hurricanes|
|Flanagan facing de-registration as Sharks, Tigers cop huge fines|
|Napoli rejected £95m offer for Koulibaly amid United links – De Laurentiis|
|Kovac feels for axed United boss Mourinho|
|Rabiot, we do not need you – PSG fans respond to wantaway midfielder|
|Guardiola hails assured debut from Man City youngster Garcia|
|He´s very happy at Tottenham – Arsenal boss Emery wants Pochettino to reject Manchester United|
|Rams sign RB C.J. Anderson|
|Good luck with the Red Devils - Norway PM´s message for Solskjaer|
|Pogba was ´dancing on the grave´ of Mourinho - Neville|
|Solskjaer set to replace Mourinho after Man United gaffe|
|City signing Steffen up to Guardiola´s goalkeeper demands, says Berhalter|
|Mourinho is so strong - Guardiola backing for fallen rival|
|Mourinho? Ausilio dismisses Inter return after United sacking|
|Whyte needs to raise his game to beat Chisora again - Haye|
|Brussino leads late Tenerife rally as Venezia down Holon|
|Orleans 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Super sub Diaby sends holders through|
|Leicester City 1 Manchester City 1 (1-3 on penalties): Muric stands tall in poor shoot-out|
|Middlesbrough 0 Burton Albion 1: League One side reach semi-finals|
|Bologna 0 AC Milan 0: Bakayoko sent off as Inzaghi claims point against former side|
|Fortuna Dusseldorf 2 Borussia Dortmund 1: Bundesliga leaders suffer shock first loss|
|Rivera yet to make a call on sitting Panthers QB Newton|
|Pulisic would thrive in Premier League, but Berhalter expects Dortmund stay|
|Raptors coach Nurse fined by NBA for criticising referees|
|Solari ´loves´ struggling Real Madrid star Isco|
|Mourinho sacked: Pogba, Lukaku, Fred and his other Man United signings rated|
|Mourinho sacked: What does it mean for Manchester United players?|
|Ibrahimovic provides short-term pain, long-term gain for US - Berhalter|
|River Plate 2 Al Ain 2 (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Perez misses decisive spot kick|
|De Bruyne and Aguero back for City, surprise debut for Garcia|
|Uncapped Varun ´panicked a little´ after huge IPL deal|
|Replays scrapped for FA Cup fifth round|
|Pochettino readies big guns for Gunners|
|Ex-Wasps star Wade struggling with NFL transition|
|BCCI rejects ´baseless´ claims over Kohli-Paine ´banter´|
|Ibrahimovic re-signs with LA Galaxy for 2019|
|Mourinho sacked: Solari not worried for Real Madrid job|
|Mourinho sacked: 895 days and more than £700,000 in five-star luxury|
|ES Tunis 1 Guadalajara 1 (6-5 on penalties): Dhaouadi holds nerve to settle ill-tempered affair|
|Murphy lands permanent Tigers role|
|Mourinho sacked: Real Madrid´s Marcelo lauds ´great coach´ after United exit|
|Unadkat, Varun the top buys at IPL auction|
|Emery prepared to give youth a chance in north London derby|
|Tottenham extend Vertonghen contract until 2020|
|Panthers safety Reid receives seventh random drug test of 2018|
|Kovac relishing Klopp challenge in Champions League|
|Bancroft to return, teenager Lamichhane to fly the flag for Nepal in Big Bash|
|Liverpool still have plenty of work to do - Klopp|
|Messi ´never imagined´ his success after winning record fifth Golden Shoe|
|WATCH: Timberwolves´ Gibson tries to block shot with his trainer|
|Mourinho sacked: Klopp praises departed Manchester United boss|
|Mourinho sacked: Jose the best Manchester United manager since Ferguson - Gerrard|
|Mourinho sacked: Ferdinand calls for ´fresh ideas´ at Man United|
|Mourinho sacked: The mystique has gone as United spell ends in divorce|
|´He´s an interest not only for us but for many´ - Zola praises rumoured Chelsea target Wilson|
|Mourinho sacked: Pochettino focused on Spurs amid Manchester United rumours|
|Mendis eyes double-century for departing Samaraweera|
|Mourinho sacked: Zola expects Jose to be in another job ´soon´|
|Mourinho sacked: Five reasons it went wrong at Manchester United|
|Mourinho sacked: Jose´s Manchester United record in Opta stats|
|Mourinho sacked: Pogba, Ronaldo and Jose´s biggest bust-ups|
|Mourinho sacked: Blanc, Solskjaer - the men who could steady the United ship short-term|
|Mourinho sacked: The football world reacts|