NFL wild card weekend: what are the overtime rules - do both teams get possession? Rules explained

Tom Brady is among the stars in action this weekend

The NFL will be introducing a major shake-up of its overtime rules for the playoffs this season.

Stars of the AFC and NFC will be in action with the super wild card fixtures over the weekend. It will start with Seattle Seahawks at the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday (14 January) and end with Dallas Cowboys’ trip to Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday (16 January) night football.

It will also see the NFL debut its revamped overtime rules, following a series of controversial end to playoff games in previous years. Both teams will have a chance to get their hands on the ball, in the biggest change.

But what else is changing and why have the rules being revamped? Here is all you need to know:

What were the NFL overtime rules?

Previously if a playoff fixture ended in a tie after four quarters, the game would go to overtime. A coin flip would decide which team would get possession first.

The teams would then play out another 15 minutes of action, however if the team who receive the ball first score a touchdown the game would end - with the other team not having a chance to respond to the score.

Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills drops back to pass in the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 01, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Why have the rules been changed?

The old overtime rules became the subject of controversy after a series of high profile playoff fixtures where star QBs didn’t get a chance to touch the ball at all. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs fell victim to the rules in the AFC Championship in 2019, when the New England Patriots won the toss and marched up the field, scoring a touchdown to end the game.

The Kansas City Chiefs were involved in another controversial overtime game, which came after the epic divisional playoff game against Buffalo Bills in January 2022. The slug-fest saw 17 points scored in the final minute to take the game to overtime, Chiefs won the toss and scored a touchdown, ending the game and not giving the Bills a chance to respond.

It provoked a huge response from fans, pundits and those involved in the league, and a rule was tabled to change overtime rules for the playoffs from the 2022-2023 season.

What are the overtime rules for NFL playoffs?

The rules for overtime in NFL playoff games, including the forthcoming super wild card weekend, have been revamped for the 2022-2023 season. Among the major changes is a rule that both teams will receive the ball even if the team who won the toss scored a touchdown on the first possession.

NFL owners agreed to the rule changes earlier ahead of the current season. It follows the divisional playoff between Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in January 2022.

The full list of rule changes are as follows, according to Sporting News:

  • Each team will have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime
  • Each team gets three timeouts during a half
  • If the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period — or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended — the teams will play another overtime period. Play will continue regardless of how many overtime periods are needed for a winner to be determined
  • There will be a two-minute intermission between each overtime period. There will not be a halftime intermission after the second period
  • The same timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period
  • If there is still no winner at the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss, and play will continue until a winner is declared

What do you think of the rule changes? Is it the right decision, or should they have stayed the same? Let us know!