Ties in the NFL and what to do about them

By: Jack on September 11th, 2018

Yesterday to open their 2018 seasons the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers tied at 21-21.

Ties in the NFL have always been one of the most boring, anticlimactic events in all of sports. The highest, most competitive level of football in the land has overtime rules that skew heavily towards whoever wins a post game coin toss.

Because Wikipedia has an article for everything we can look back on the history of ties in the NFL.

The First 53 Seasons:

In the NFLs first 53 years (1920-1973) there was no overtime. If the game was deadlocked when the final whistle was blown that was it. The game ended in a tie.

This resulted in the first NFL season having an astounding 17 ties.

The 1922 NFL season had 9 ties. With 70% of all games being complete shutouts, and 5 of those ties were 0-0 scorelines. Basically this meant the early days of football were terribly boring and low scoring. For more on this check out Chart Party – Every NFL Score Ever.

Getting into some real math. The NFL averaged 4.7 tied games a season in its first 53 years with a total of 256 tied games. For frame of reference, today there are 256 games in the entire NFL regular season split between 32 teams.

That’s right! In the first 53 years of the NFL the equivalent of one modern season was made up entirely of tie games. At that time there were only 14-28 teams so ties occurred at an even greater frequency than they would if the rules remained the same to this day.

Overtime Is Added In 1974:

Then in 1974 everything changed… Not really.

The NFL added overtime to games. You could still end up with a tied game, but one 15 minute quarter of sudden death was played and the first team to score was the winner. It did not matter how they scored, just as long as they scored first. This was the rule set until the end of the 2011 season.

In the time from 1974 to 2011 477 regular season games entered overtime and only 3.6% ended in ties.

In this 37 year period you actually had more games end regulation in a tie than ever before. Those 477 games would have previously ended in ties. Which is a significant uptick from the 256 tied games in the prior 53 years.

Worth noting, by the point the number of teams had expanded and was continuing to grow. The AFL (merged in 1970) was absorbed into the NFL. You’ve got a larger sample size, more end of regulation ties are bound to happen.

What’s the good news here?

Less ties. Of those games the entered overtime only 3.6% ended in a tie even knowing more games went into overtime.

At this rate one game every other season was resulting in a tie which is a good thing. We get some finality to more games.

What’s the bad news here?

Winning these games became fairly lucky. In a sudden death system were a coin toss decides who get’s the ball first all the possessing team had to do was drive into field goal range and they’d often emerge victorious. Since 1974 the accuracy of field goals has only climbed on the whole. With the low end of completions being 58.3% made in 1977 and 84.5% being made in 2008.

2012 Overtime Rule Corrections:

To correct some of this first possession luck the NFL changed the overtime rules in 2012 where they only became convoluted.

To summarize:

  • If the first team to posses the ball scored through a field goal the other team would get the opportunity to posses the ball.
    • If the other team failed to score the first team to posses wins the game.
    • If the second team to posses scored a field goal the game turned into true sudden death where the next score would win.
    • If the second team scored a touchdown the game was over with them as the victors.
  • If the first team to posses failed to score a field goal the game became a true sudden death match.
  • If the first team to posses scores a touchdown the game is over.

This change eliminated the possibility of one team getting the ball, doing enough to march into field goal range, and kicking themselves the football equivalent of a walk off home run on the first overtime possession.

In the 4 year period this was the active overtime rule set 83 games went into overtime with 6% of games resulting in a tie.

This rule change had to opposite of the desired effect. It made overtime more complicated to understand and increased the number of overtime games that resulted in a tie.

Current Overtime Rules:

Which brings us to the present day.

In 2017 the NFL made yet another rule change to how overtime is handled. The overtime period was shortened to just 10 minutes in order to avoid player fatigue and injury. No other rules were changed. The 2017 season went swimmingly with no games resulting in a tie. However this brings us to yesterday.

The fateful day in which the 0-16 in 2017 Cleveland Browns tied the last season playoff contender Pittsburgh Steelers 21-21.

What does all this rambling mean?

The NFL overtime rules are awful.

At first there was no overtime.

Then there was overtime, and it wasn’t super good. This is because the first team to get the ball was likely to win the game because field goals have always been at worst more than likely to be made, and at best almost automatic. With kickers only getting better over time.

The NFL then tried to mitigate this by giving the second possessing team a chance if the first team to posses the ball only scored a field goal. In the end we are still left with these somewhat lame instances where a field goal can instantly win a game under more circumstances than not.

To make it worse the time you have to win the game has been shortened in recent years from 15 minutes to 10. A positive move for player safety but a negative move in providing an interesting and competitive overtime.

Finally adding insult to injury; whoever gets the ball first is at a major advantage in overtime to get the win. The first possession is decided by a game of totally random chance in that they simply flip a coin.

Please Just Adopt College OT Rules:

The distaste for the current overtime rules has only been growing in recent years. Which is why we’ve seen so much discussion surrounding how the NFL handles overtime. Instead of making all of these incremental changes they really just need to bite the bullet and move to the college football inning based overtime rules.

Each team is given an opportunity to posses the ball. The second team can get a walk off win if they prevent the first team from scoring, and then score in the “bottom half” of the inning. Much like a walk off win in baseball which isn’t all bad. Walk offs can be fun if everyone is at least given a chance to score, and has to play on both sides of the ball.

You make the rules more restrictive the longer overtime goes on which helps wrap things up quickly. Since starting in the third inning teams must “go for two” if a touchdown is scored.

The biggest benefit of this system is that ties can no longer exist. Someone has to go home a winner each game. It’s always tough to take a loss but in the end you’re left with a concrete final result that can’t have a wishy washy, hand wavy effect on the overall standings once it gets down to the playoff race.

The college football overtime rules are more fair than the current NFL rules, it takes equal or less time to play overtime, and the NFL could modify them as they see fit for their league. It’s time for a change.

Last Day To Join Professional Football Leagues

By: Jack on September 6th, 2018

Today is the last day to join professional football leagues until next season. All league joins and picks must be submitted by 7:20pm eastern time.

If you want to join anymore leagues to attempt to survive against others in that pool you can view our complete leagues directory.

If you want to submit, update, or just check that you’ve submitted your picks for this week go to the Your Leagues page.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to participate in our inaugural season. We look forward to seeing who can make it the farthest in their picking over the coming weeks in college and professional football.

Week 1 College Football Wins and Losses Have Been Processed

By: Jack on September 4th, 2018

As this Florida State vs Virginia Tech game wraps up on this late Labor Day evening we have run our crawler to update those who should be eliminated from any given league they are in.

If you picked wrong in a league, bummer you’re done week 1. If you picked correctly we’ll see you next week. If you joined multiple leagues take a look in to see which ones you’re still rocking and rolling in.

Picking for next week will be unlocked Tuesday as soon as the newly updated AP Poll is released. We’ll have a short picking window over the next few days because of this uncommon Monday night college football game.

College Football League Joins and Picking Lock Thursday, August 30th @ 6:00pm EDT

By: Jack on August 29th, 2018

Once the college football season starts you will no longer be able to join college football leagues/survivor pools on Armchair Analyst.

The first game featuring a top 25 team is Thursday, August 30th. Picks and league joins will lock roughly one hour prior to that games start placing the lock time at approximately 6:00pm EDT.

The first game of the season is #21 UCF at unranked UConn. The full weeks schedule for college football can be found on ESPN.

To sum it up you must join college football leagues and have your picks submitted by Thursday, August 30th @ 6:00pm EDT.

If you’ve got any questions on how survivor pools work check out our latest helpful video down below.

Check out our full league directory and submit picks to leagues you are a member of.

The AP Pre-Season Top 25 is here! Teams most likely to win and lose week 1 in college football.

By: Jack on August 21st, 2018

The Polls:

USA Today Publishes the Amway Coaches Poll earlier in the pre-season than the AP Top 25.

If you’re a real hound for any kind of ranking the Coaches Poll should satisfy you and act as a signifier that college football season is soon upon us.

Many do not take the Coaches Poll nearly as seriously as the AP Top 25 though because the conventional wisdom is that the coaches put very little thought or energy into their picks. They’ve got bigger and better things to do getting ready for the upcoming season so it might as well be the Coaches Interns Poll.

On the other hand the AP Poll is considered more accurate as its generated by sports writers and journalist who’s jobs it is to be abreast of the latest developments in the world of college football. Even then some still say there shouldn’t even be a pre-season poll.

We don’t get to see teams in any real capacity before week 1 and college football has always proved to be incredibly volatile. FiveThirtyEight even taught us that there are certain teams who are always overrated simply due to their brand recognition.

Personally I don’t put too much stock into the Top 25 since the only rankings that matter now are the ones handed down by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. That said the pre-season rankings are fun for bragging rights and often times a decent indicator of where some teams do actually stand. You just shouldn’t sweat them too much.

This years AP Pre-Season Top 25 are:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Georgia
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Ohio State
  6. Washington
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Miami
  9. Auburn
  10. Penn State
  11. Michigan State
  12. Notre Dame
  13. Stanford
  14. Michigan
  15. USC
  16. TCU
  17. West Virginia
  18. Mississippi State
  19. Florida State
  20. Virginia Tech
  21. UCF
  22. Boise State
  23. Texas
  24. Oregon
  25. LSU

Oklahoma State was the only team dropped from the rankings between the Coaches Poll and this first AP Poll. Multiple teams moved up or down in the rankings between the two polls.

For the sales pitch:

Join an Armchair Analyst Survivor Pool Today:

The idea of Armchair Analyst survivor pools is simple.

Each week you pick a team you believe will win their game. If they win you move on to pick again the next week. If they lose you are eliminated.

The catch is you can only pick each team once per season in each league you are a member of. There are survivor leagues for professional and college football. If you want to know more take a look at our FAQ.

Sign up and take part in our public leagues, or create your own to challenge friends, family, or acquaintances.

Who has it easy week 1?

Those of you playing in Armchair Analyst Survivor Pools for college football might want some help picking in week 1. Those of you who are just reading this because you find it interesting don’t need help picking but it’s understandable why you might want to know who’s got the easiest matchups week 1.

Top 5 Easiest Matchups Based on the Vegas odds:

  1. Ohio State 37 point favorite to beat Oregon State
  2. Wisconsin 33 point favorite to beak WKU
  3. Oregon 31 point favorite to beat Bowling Green
  4. Alabama 28.5 point favorite to beat Louisville
  5. Michigan State 27 point favorite to beat Utah State

Top 5 Hardest Matchups Based on Vegas Odds:

  1. Michigan is a 1.5 point favorite over Notre Dame
  2. Auburn is a 2.5 point favorite over Washington
  3. Miami is a 3 point favorite over LSU
  4. Florida State is a 6.5 point favorite over Virginia Tech
  5. West Virginia is a 10.5 point favorite over Tennessee
  6. Boise State is a 10.5 point favorite over Troy

Teams You Probably Shouldn’t Pick In Your Survivor Pool:

Oregon, for starters, is a team you should not pick. It is highly unlikely Oregon loses to a team like Bowling Green. However stranger things have happened. The Pac-12 as a whole and Oregon in particular did not perform well in the 2017 season. With a healthy quarterback they are likely to be back on track in 2018 but as a week one pick they feel risky even knowing the Vegas sports books favor them heavily as of now.

LSU or Miami. These are two teams who many feel are more evenly matched than the rankings would lead you to believe. LSU lost a ton of depth in the offseason and struggled early last year. Miami got off to a hot start last year yet fizzled out a bit as the season went along. Eventually losing to Wisconsin, in the Orange Bowl… In their home stadium. This is a coin flip and the point spread affirms that.

Stanford lost to San Diego State last year by a field goal. Will this happen again? Probably not. Why risk it though? San Diego State went 10-3 last season in a Mountain West that featured a notable Boise State and Fresno State. With all three teams finding themselves in the top 25 at one point or another. Stanford is likely to win this game but if you had to pick a top 25 team most likely to lose to an unranked opponent week 1 Stanford is near the top of the list.

Armchair Analyst 2018 Celebrity Endorsement Video

By: Jack on August 12th, 2018

We are honored to have a such a revered figure in the football community endorsing our web site. We really thank him for taking the time to make this ad for us.

He enjoys playing in survivor pool pick’em challenges on Armchair Analyst so much that he created his own leagues you can play against him in:

How Survivor Pools Work

By: Jack on August 12th, 2018

Survivor Pools for football might be a new thing to many of you so we wanted to create a quick little video explaining the basics of how survivor pools work.

If you’re interested head on over to the Armchair Analyst homepage, signup, and join a league, or create your own.