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Most ties in an NFL season? Most overtime games in an NFL season? 2018 approaching records

October 15,2018 08:11

Week 6 set a record for overtime purposes, with the Bears-Dolphins game -- an overtime affair ended when Jason Sanders hit the second-longest game-winning overtime kick by a rookie (47 yards) in NFL history -- making it a clean sweep for the NFL so far ...


If you feel like we're seeing more and more ties and overtimes in the NFL during the 2018 season, well, you're right. We are. In fact, if you were to ask, "What is the record for most ties in an NFL season?" or, "What's the record for most overtime games in an NFL season?" by the time January rolls around, you might be able to say both happened in 2018.
Week 6 set a record for overtime purposes, with the Bears-Dolphins game -- an overtime affair ended when Jason Sanders hit the second-longest game-winning overtime kick by a rookie (47 yards) in NFL history -- making it a clean sweep for the NFL so far in terms of at least one overtime game per week. 
So far in 2018, at least one game has gone to overtime in each of the first six weeks, which is the first time that's happened in NFL history. All told there have been nine games that have gone to overtime through six weeks of the season.
Record for overtime games in a single season
The current record for most overtime games in one season is 25, which happened way back in 2002. There were also 23 in a season in 2003 for those that are curious. The 25 in 2002 is an average of 1.47 ties per week. We are currently on a 1.5 ties per week pace, and if it kept up the NFL would end up with 25.5 total overtime games for the season. Round up and it's the record, down and it still ties the record. 
This may not be related to anything other than pure happenstance -- we only had 14 overtime games in the entire 2017 season. Or maybe it's just the Browns and Texans being weird at football: the two teams have combined for five of the nine overtime games this year.
Record for ties in a single season
As far as ties go, this season should set the record for most ties in one NFL season. Prior to this year, we had only ever seen multiple ties in three different seasons and never more than two ties in a single season. The 2016 season, 1997 season and 1986 season all featured a pair of ties, with the 2016 season hitting the number before November thanks to the Bengals and Redskins ending their trip to London in a tie.
This year we, ahem, tied the record for most ties before October. The Browns and Steelers tied in 21-21 in Week 1 and in Week 2 the Vikings and Packers tied 29-29. 
Part of the reason for increased ties is a shorter overtime period. We're already talking about conservative coaches here, and if you give them less time to solve the outcome of the game, it's more likely to result in a tie. Coaches don't like to lose, and a tie is better than a loss.
We should have already gotten three ties this season, except Colts coach Frank Reich decided to go for broke against the Texans in Week 5, when he eschewed punting on a fourth down in overtime and tried to pick up a fourth-and-2 near midfield. The result was Houston kicking a game-winning field goal, but you better believe if Houston got the ball back Bill O'Brien was going to burn off the clock and walk out of town with a half-win. 
There's a long way home, but if our current overtime pace keeps up, we will almost certainly see another tie -- the modern NFL doesn't necessarily encourage overtime periods with the rules, but the overtime rules most certainly encourage ties. Don't be surprised if the record for most ties in a season and most overtimes in a season are both broken this year.

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