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Report: NFL expected to slash regular season overtime down to ten minutes

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Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NFL is once again tinkering with its overtime system. In a report from NFL.com‘s Judy Battista, owners are expected to approve a reduction in how much time will be in uh ... overtime.

The vote is set to happen next week.

The proposal was made back in March but was tabled at the Annual League Meeting, hence the vote is happening now. It was initially reported by Battista that “the committee believes there is a "real disadvantage" for a team playing an entire 15-minute overtime period before having to turn around and play a Thursday night game the following week.”

About one of every four overtime games since 2012 has gone at least 10 minutes, including five ties, of which one of them was the Seahawks 6-6 game against the Cardinals.

On the surface, the NFL is essentially doing what other major sports leagues do. The NHL’s regular season OT is just 5 minutes (with a recent change to 3-on-3), but it’s normal 5-on-5 and 20 minutes for the playoffs. Both the NBA and college basketball do 5 minute OT periods in regular and postseason play, while extra time in soccer is 30 minutes (as opposed to another 45 minutes). The obvious distinction is that none of those other sports can end in a tie after overtime, with both hockey and soccer resorting to penalty shootouts.

There is theoretically the risk of more ties, but I’d like to think this change would encourage coaches to be more aggressive with their playcalling, taking into account that this move will reduce the expected number of possessions. A scenario that intrigues me is Team A kicking a field goal on a painstakingly long seven-minute drive, leaving Team B with three minutes to work with. If Team B is in FG range but also, say, in the red zone with seconds remaining, will they go for the touchdown or play for the tie?

I guess we’ll all find out together how the league will adjust to shorter overtimes (assuming this is approved) later this year.