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Pasch Factor: Extra Point Intrigue

The change in the point-after for touchdowns should bring in interesting decisions

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The new extra point rule is a polarizing subject for media members and fans despite the overwhelming approval by the NFL owners (30-2 voted in favor). After watching the first weekend of games, I'm "buying" the rule change.

While a 33-yard extra point is not automatic for an NFL kicker, the numbers from Week 1 of the preseason show it's pretty close. Kickers were 54 of 56 on extra-point kicks, a 96 percent success rate. Last year, kickers were good 99 percent of the time from the old extra point distance. There were some coaches who elected for the two-point conversion -- snapped from the 2-yard line like previous years – and those attempts were 6-of-13, less than 50 percent.

I think most teams, including the Cardinals, will stay conventional and kick the extra point. Of course, there are head coaches who will gamble. It will be interesting, when the regular season starts, if these coaches only go for two in the fourth quarter, which is common protocol in college football. If a team elects to go for two early in the game and fails, they'll be chasing that point throughout the game. If they convert on an early two-point play, there's still a lot of time left in the game for the opponent to match.

Is it really worth the risk? I don't think so. I've talked to coaches and former players on the subject. Teams with option quarterbacks like Carolina will likely be the ones to try two-point plays. But defenses look different on the goal line than normal. There is no deep safety in the game, so there is an extra player in the box to account for the quarterback. In other words, the offense won't have a man-advantage, like it might if the line of scrimmage was midfield. With Cam Newton, that may not matter, because he is fast, strong and elusive enough to beat his man from two yards out.  

Teams with traditional quarterbacks lose the option threat, but could benefit from  one-on-one coverage on the outside. A taller, stronger wide receiver has the upper hand on a fade pattern. Offenses will no doubt try and run pick routes also, but that could lead to offensive pass interference, resulting in a longer try on the point-after. Worse, if a defender trying to cover a pick, or crossing route, reads the play and jumps the route, he might intercept the pass and return it for two points.

While most teams will probably just kick the extra point based on the odds of success, a previously boring play has at least become more interesting from a decision making standpoint for coaches, players, media, and fans.

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