According to the new NFL rules, the touchbacks should be set at 25 during kickoff instead of 20. Since the rules are new, it will take some time before the NFL teams get to know the full impact of these new changes. Vikings and Seattle Seahawks game this Thursday will give the fans a chance to see the new touchbacks rule in effect. It is not clear how this new rules will affect NFL predictions against the spread.
This new rule change aims at reducing the number of live returns by making it more appealing for the receiving team to accept a touchback. By reducing the number of live returns, the number of injuries will be reduced thereby making the kickoff much safer.
In 2010, the kickoff was moved to 35 from 30 by the league in an attempt to reduce the number of kickoff returns and injuries. This method proved to work as the number of kick returns dropping from 80.1% in 2010 to 41.1% in 2015.
Under the new rule, it is speculated that the teams will try to pin their opponents inside the 25 other than kick the ball through the end zone to hand their opponents the ball at 25. It is also assumed that the teams may just kick the ball short to the 1 or 2 yard line.
This appeared to be the case when Seattle Seahawks won 17-16 against the Chiefs in Kansas City. There were a total of nine kickoffs and only one went for a touchback. The Seattle’s kicks that went to Kansas were 2- and 8-, there were also two others which went into the end zone and were judged to be four and five yards deep. All of these kicks were retuned, same case applied to Kansa’s kicks to Seattle. Kansa kicks to Seattle’s were 2-, 2- and a 9-yard line and another one kick that was two yards deep.
You would agree with me that one week is a really small sample size to judge the effect of the new rule on the game. Seattle’s Coach Brian Schneider said that it will be premature to conclude anything based on the preseason matches. This can be attributed to the nature of the pre-season itself, the teams are rotating the squad and the young players can kick through the end zone and force a touchback.
In a statement, Schneider said that the Seahawks set a rule that any kick that is more than five yards deep not to be returned, however any inside kick should be returned. According to Schneider, Seahawk’s game is affected by several factors such weather and overall game plan. They are flexible and their game can change during the game. The game can change depending on the current score and several other factors.
By averaging 20.8 per attempt, the Seattle Seahawks did not get a ton out of their returns. However,, that is just a number and it is hard to make anything of it. Additionally, they did not use Tyler Lockett who had an average of 25.8 per return.
Across the league, there have been very good display of returns, but there are several different personnel and it is hard to get a good test of the returns. However, the teams are more inclined to see what happens by kicking it short, added Schneider.
Based on the statistics, in the NFL, the worst coverage was under 25 years in 2015. There are therefore different ways to look at the numbers to figure out what to do. In a statement, Pete Caroll said that it is too early to assess anything and they are waiting to see if there is much change.