NFL Coin Toss Needs to Be Tossed

After all but eliminating kickoff returns, it's time for the NFL to get rid of another relic from its past:

Coin tosses — both to start the game, and, if necessary, to start overtime.

In 2019, the league did away with coin tosses in cases where two (or more) teams finished with both the same record and played the same strength of schedule — something that came up this year as the Raiders and Broncos both finished 8-9 and played a .488 strength of schedule; so the Broncos will draft ahead of the Raiders because they lost to Las Vegas twice.

So the next logical step is to eliminate coin tosses altogether.

Since in the overwhelming majority of cases, the team that wins the coin toss to start the game elects to defer, because it gives them the potential opportunity for back-to-back possessions — the last possession in the first half and the first possession in the second half — one can use this as the "default setting."

And to increase the value of the home-field advantage, the home team can always get the ball to start the second half — just like, in baseball, the road team bats in the top half of every inning, meaning that only the home team can score a walk-off run(s).

As for overtime, the home team should always get the ball first; however, even if they score a touchdown, the game should not end, unless the home team scores on the last play of the extra period: Every year there are a few instances of one team maintaining possession of the ball for at least 10 minutes, so it's not impossible.

This can even be observed in the Super Bowl (the division champion with the better record in the role of the home team), the idea of holding that game at, say, "the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" being totally unthinkable — and it would keep everybody, including this year's Ravens, honest (Baltimore's loss at home to the Steelers in their season finale put Pittsburgh in the playoffs ... so much for division rivalries).

Looking at the history of home teams since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 — now pretty much universally agreed upon as "the modern era" — the most home-dominated season was 1985, when home teams went 144-80, for a winning percentage of .643. That's nine out of every 14 games won by the home team.

By contrast, in its 1976-77 season — the first after it absorbed the remnants of the ABA (the Nuggets, Pacers, Nets and Spurs) — home teams in the NBA won a staggering 68.5% of the games.

Not only that, but not a single team had a winning record on the road that season, and all but two teams (the Nets and Hawks) had a winning record at home.

So great was the home court advantage perceived to be that when the Sixers, 42-27 going into a March 20 game against the 21-49 Nets at Nassau Coliseum, the line on the game was pick 'em (the Sixers won 111-104).

Now think of how much Roger Goodell loves "competitive balance": if even the worst teams go .500 at home every year, and even the best teams do no better than .500 on the road, more teams will still be mathematically in playoff contention with three games left, with two games left — and even going into their last game.

Isn't that what the NFL wants?

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