Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL owners pass change to playoff Overtime rules

Why is a playoff game subject to a different set of rules than a regular season game. From ESPN-

The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.

The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas.

The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voted against the proposal.

The competition committee recommended the change in a vote of 6-2, and commissioner Roger Goodell supported the plan. He was able to secure enough votes to get the proposal passed on Tuesday, a day before the expected Wednesday vote.

The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.

Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994, teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that loses the toss wins the game 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.

“We’ve had this discussion for a number of years,” competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said. “We feel this year’s proposal gave us the opportunity to [install] a pretty good rule. Statistically we felt it needed to be changed. It wasn’t creating the fairest result as far as field goal accuracy, field goal distance and drive starts.”

Under the new rules, both teams will get one possession whoever leads at the end of it is the winner. If both are tied, then whoever scores first wins. Then doesn’t that defeat the new rule, I mean the team that won the toss gets the first 2nd crack at scoring!

The NFL has used the same rule for over 50 years to decide playoff games. No matter how you finesse matters, the stats are never going to come out 50-50. If teams don’t like it being decided by a coin toss, go for two points instead of playing it safe late in the game when the team kicks the tying extra point.


NFL may change overtime rules for playoffs

No sudden death for sudden death? From AP-

An NFL spokesman said Saturday the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.

Under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, Greg Aiello said. If the first team to get the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.

Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.

“There have been various concepts that have been discussed in recent years, but this one has never been proposed,” Aiello said.

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.

It is my prediction that the NFL does make some kind of change. Personally, I’m ambivalent on the issue. I believe the statistics show that the teams who lose the toss win slightly more often in regular season games. What the playoff record, I don’t know. Honestly, who says life or sports has to be fair?


Former NFL Player Mosi Tatupu dead at 54

His son Lofa is currently a NFL linebacker. Very sad and RIP.

Mosi Tatupu (MOE’-see tah-TOO’-poo), a fan favorite who played 13 seasons for the New England Patriots, has died. He was 54.Mosi Tatupu

Ashley O’Brien, a spokeswoman for Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass., said Tatupu was pronounced dead at the hospital Tuesday. She did not give a cause.

Tatupu was chosen by the Patriots in the eighth round of the 1978 draft out of Southern California. He stayed with the team until 1990.

The running back rushed for 2,415 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was better known for his special teams play.

Tatupu had his own cheering section known as “Mosi’s Mooses.”

He coached his son, Lofa, now a linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks, at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.


Baltimore Ravens acquire WR Donte Stallworth

He didn’t play a down in the NFL during 2009 because of his being suspended by the NFL. From AP-

The Baltimore Ravens say they have signed wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth to a one-year contract.

Stallworth was recently released by the Cleveland Browns after being reinstated by the NFL following a one-year suspension. He was suspended for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy for a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge.

Stallworth served 30 days in a Miami jail for striking and killing a Miami construction worker with his car while driving under the influence of alcohol.

I thought the sentence was a travesty of justice at the time it happened and still believe so. Stallworth got special treatment because he is a pro athlete. If I had killed someone while DUI, my sentence would involve years in jail.

From strictly a football point of view, the Stallworth signing is a good move by Baltimore.


NFL considering mandatory echocardiograms

The NBA has required this test for its players since 2006. From ESPN-

Between the time of Bears defensive end Gaines Adams’ death last Sunday to his funeral Friday, the NFL’s Cardiovascular Committee began discussing the possibility of subjecting all players to a heart scan called an echocardiogram, starting with potential draft picks invited to the NFL scouting combine next month.

NFLPA medical director Thomas Mayer told ESPN that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Adams stated the enlarged heart that led to his death could have been detected by an echocardiogram.

But, as Mayer pointed out, the process is complicated.

Is the fear of legal liability going to influence a doctor? Are cardiologists going to agree on whether a player has an enlarged heart or an athlete’s heart? Does that mean he’s systematically finished as a football player?

More likely, a questionable echocardiogram could lead to more sensitive tests, such as a cardio catheter procedure.

As a person who had major cardiac surgery less than 18 months ago, I see mandatory electrocardiograms as a good idea. Putting the policy into place will be complicated, but it shouldn’t be used as a reason not to do this. My heart condition, a bicuspid heart valve and ascending aortic aneurysm was very serious, and till as little as two weeks prior to my operation, nobody knew I had those conditions. Some heart problems in addition to a enlarged hearts, show few or little warning signs.

I would also add that a large amount if not majority of NFL players, are grossly overweight. Heart testing is for their own good.


NFL Linebacker Junior Seau says he is retiring

This is his 4th retirement. From AP-

Junior Seau is retiring again.

The 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker, who returned to the New England Patriots this season, said in remarks to be broadcast on Showtime on Wednesday night that he has played his last game.

Seau first retired in August 2006 after 13 seasons with San Diego and three with Miami. But he signed with the Patriots four days later and played 27 games for them over two seasons. He retired again after the 2007 season, then came out of retirement for the final four games in 2008 before retiring after that season.

Seau played in 8 games for the Patriots this year, but all were in a backup capacity. When Seau hasn’t played in a game or worked out with a NFL for two years, then I’ll believe he is retired for real.


Seattle Seahawks to name Pete Carroll head coach

A press conference will announce the hiring at 6 p.m. From ESPN-

The Seattle Seahawks confirmed Monday they have agreed to terms on a contract with Pete Carroll to become their next head coach.Pete Carroll

“We are excited to add Pete as our coach,” said CEO Tod Leiweke in a statement. “He brings a great passion for winning and a positive attitude that is contagious. We now turn our full attention to the hiring process for a general manager.

“Our intended structure is for Pete and the new GM to work in a collaborative capacity on football matters.”

Carroll is jumping ship at USC just in time. The school is facing NCAA sanctions in the not too distant future.

How will Carroll do with the Seahawks? He’s had two chances in the NFL already, with the NY Jets and New England Patriots. Carroll’s combined record over 4 years with those teams was 33-31, hardly spectacular.

I think Carroll is in for a even rougher time in the NFL. It isn’t a for a successful college coach to transition to pro ball. For every Barry Switzer, there’s at least three Steve Spurriers, Rich Brooks, and Bobby Petrinos. Jeffri Chadiha at ESPN pretty much says what I’m thinking also-

What those other coaches eventually learned is that there is a substantial difference between leading grown men and leading boys who are becoming men. Like Carroll, most of those coaches came from places where they had dictatorial power and a gift for nabbing hordes of talented players who could elevate their programs. The NFL is different. It’s easy to suffer through lousy personnel moves that haunt your franchise for years and even easier to end up with players who don’t respect you.

Carroll should know this last fact better than anybody. He never became a top head coach because the perception was that he was too soft. As much as his hypercaffeinated, rah-rah nature excited college kids who gravitated to his affable personality, it had an opposite effect in the league. The players didn’t merely see a players’ coach. They saw a pushover, which is the last thing an NFL head coach can afford to be.

Seattle will still be struggling in 2013 and again looking for a new coach to lead them out of the wilderness.


January 10th NFL Wildcard playoff game predictions

My predictions were way off yesterday. So I have re-calibrated my crystal ball and are ready to do some football prognosticating again.

Baltimore at New England- Yet again another regular season rematch. The Patriots beat the Ravens on week four, 27-21.

The big news in the buildup to this game, was the year ending knee injury Wes Welker suffered during last Sunday’s season finale. The loss of the Conference’s most prolific wide receiver is certainly a blow to New England.

But it’s one I think they will overcome. Baltimore will double cover Patriots WR Randy Moss but Tom Brady will use his other targets to move the football down the field. My prediction- New England wins 27-17.

Green Bay at Arizona- These two teams met one week ago, with the Packers winning 41-16 in Arizona.

The Packers have also won 6 of the last 7 times these teams have met. This is essentially a show of two high performing quarterbacks, Green Bay’s Andre Rodgers(4,434 yards and 103.2 passing rating) versus Arizona QB Kurt Warner who has a lifetime 98.99 post season passing rating.

The basis for why I pick Arizona to win 38-34

1 Green Bay isn’t at home where they almost always have the advantage at playoff time
2 Arizona hasn’t lost two games in a row all
3 I chose Arizona to make it to the Super Bowl.

Let’s see if I get at least one prediction right this weekend.


AFC and NFC playoff picture rundown

Someone got their abacos out and did all the playoff calculations. Here they are-

Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening. Jacksonville and Miami cannot make the playoffs with a tie.


Baltimore clinches a playoff spot:
1) BAL win

NY Jets clinch a playoff spot:
1) NYJ win

Denver clinches a playoff spot:
1) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
3) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + HOU win
4) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
5) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + HOU win
6) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss
7) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
8.) PIT loss + BAL loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
9) PIT loss + HOU loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
10) MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie


Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot:
1) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie
2) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
3) PIT win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Houston clinches a playoff spot:
1) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + DEN loss or tie
3) HOU win + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Jacksonville clinches a playoff spot:
1) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss
2) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + NYJ loss
3) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
4) JAC win + PIT loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
5) JAC win + NYJ loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + BAL loss

Miami clinches a playoff spot:
1) MIA win + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

Unlike the AFC, the NFC playoff picture is pretty clear. All that needs to be determined is seeding and who will win the Eastern Division.


New Orleans — South division and a first-round bye.
Minnesota — North division.
Arizona — West division.
Philadelphia — playoff spot.
Green Bay — playoff spot.
Dallas — playoff spot.

Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Carolina, Atlanta, San Francisco, NY Giants.

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage:
1) NO win or tie
2) MIN loss or tie

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage.

Minnesota clinches home-field advantage:

1) MIN win + NO loss

Minnesota clinches a first-round bye:
1) MIN win or tie
2) PHI loss or tie

1) MIN win + PHI loss or tie
2) MIN tie + PHI loss


Arizona clinches a first-round bye:
1) ARI win + MIN loss + PHI loss

Philadelphia clinches East division:
1) PHI win or tie

Philadelphia clinches a first-round bye:
1) PHI win + MIN loss

1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie

Dallas clinches East division:
1) DAL win

Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
1) DAL win + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

In the AFC I predict the Ravens and Broncos to make it.


Get out your slide rules- AFC Wild Card picture time

Yesterday I expressed disbelief that some how the Miami Dolphins could some how still be in the playoff picture after their loss to Houston made them 7-8. Before I write anything more, I’ll break down how the AFC stands at this moment.sliderule

Division Champions that receive first round byes- Indianapolis 14-1, San Diego 12-3
Division Champions- New England 10-5, Cincinnati 10-5. As of this moment the Patriots are the #3 seed.
Out of the playoff picture entirely- Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Tennessee

While those five teams can not make the post season, more than one of them can play the part of spoiler this weekend.

Wild card contenders- Denver, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers all at 8-7. Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at 7-8.

Next week’s games involving wild card contenders

Bengals at Jets
Chiefs at Broncos
Ravens at Raiders
Texans at Patriots
Steelers at Dolphins
Jaguars at Browns

Remarkably not one AFC playoff contender is playing an out of conference team to finish the 2009 schedule. San Diego who has clinched a playoff spot and Tennessee who is out of the picture are both playing NFC teams next weekend.

Last night before going to bed I scoured ESPN and South Florida media websites looking for an article with an AFC playoff picture explanation. None were available.

This morning the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, and ESPN all had articles up on the playoff picute. Not surprisingly the Post and Herald focused on Miami. ESPN just summarized how the standings are at this moment and projected the first round of the playoffs as if play ended today.(The Jets and Broncos would qualify) What a lot of good that is.Cray X1E

Maybe ESPN didn’t have enough bandwith free to post all the possible playoff scenarios. Perhaps they needed a Cray super computer to do the calculations, or even if they had one available the power drain of using it threatened to blackout the entire Northeast.(ESPN is based out of Conecticut.)

Bottom line so far as I am concerned The Miami Dolphins are alive but their chances are slim and the New York Jets are in control of their own destiny.

For Miami to make the post season all of the following needs to take place-

Bengals beat the Jets
Raiders beat Ravens
Patriots beat Texans
Browns beat Jaguars
Dolphins beat Steelers

Neither the Herald or Post made mention of Denver. Therefore I assume whether Denver wins or loses next Sunday, it has no impact on Miami’s playoff chances.

All of which could plausibly happen. The Raiders or Browns winning would be considered upsets. Right now I have as much confidence in those teams winning as I do in Miami beating Pittsburgh.

Like ESPN, I won’t list all the playoff scenarios. I don’t think OTB’s owner James Joyner would appreciate me crashing his website and I’ve been kicked off one blog already this year.


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