There are many people who think that the NFL should not let regular season games end in ties. They feel that no matter how long it takes someone should come out on top. This has become an issue again after the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers played to a 24-24 standstill Sunday.
The truth is those who want to see overtime games play out are being shortsighted. They are only thinking about the game in progress. The NFL has to think about an entire 16 game schedule and keeping competitive balance.
When a team plays one 60 minute game of football it takes a lot out of them. Add another 15 mninutes and you have taken a full quarter out of them for the following week. This has already given their opponent a competitive advantage. If the game goes into double overtime now they are playing a game and a half. In other words a 16 game schedule becomes 16 1/2. It is hard enough for players to come back from four quarters of football much less six.
The next thing that has to be taken into consideration is the schedule. What if the Rams or 49ers had a game scheduled for this Thursday? Would three days be enough for them to recover after playing an overtime period? The answer to this is no. If they had played into a sixth quarter their Thursday night opponent would have probably killed them, especially if the Rams or 49ers had to go on the road.
This is the case if teams play on a Monday night as well. Would it not be an advantage to a team that plays on Sunday if their next opponent played a lengthy overtime game on Monday night? Of course it would. The Pittsburgh Steelers played an overtime game in the mud against the Miami Dolphins in 2007. It took a lot out of them and they were too tired to compete in January when it counted the most.
Of course, injuries are always a factor when considering extending overtime. The longer a game goes the better chance of injuries occurring. Even if they do not happen in the overtime itself the fatigue leaves players vulnerable in the next game.
The final reason why NFL teams should play just one extra period is that fans pay money to see a competitive game. If someone pays a ton of money to see pro football then they should get two teams at their best. This may not always be the case, but the league should try everything to make it possible. If a team is tired after playing an extended overtime the fans get cheated, because they won’t see the best game possible or one worth their money.
The bottom line is that the NFL overtime is long enough. The league needs to think about the entire season and putting a competitive product on the field every week for fans. Nothing should be done to jeopardize this.
If a game ends in a tie every five years then so be it.