The NFL now seems to change significant parts of how the game operates and is officiated each offseason. The league has done this before, with the most notable coming before the start of 2015 which moved extra point attempts back from the two-yard to the 15-yard line. However, this did not change much when it came to key numbers when betting NFL football.
Past NHL Rule Changes
While there was a slight change in win margins, the goal of bettors remained the same, get on the right side of the 3 and 7 when wagering on NFL games. This means taking a favorite at -2.5 an underdog at +3.5 and a favorite at -6.5 and an underdog at +7.5. Of course, when possible.
NFL kickers did miss more extra points, their percentage made after the rule change went from 99.5% of PATRs made to 93.9% in three seasons. Still, the most common margin of victory for NFL games did not change. Three points decided 15% of all games. Behind that, 9% of all games were decided by 7 points. These are still the main numbers bettors need to focus on and changing the distance of extra points did not change that.
Why The Change For Pass Interference?
Well, I’d like to say it’s because they care about getting the right call on the field, but it’s may be more about how boring the Super Bowl was and how badly the referees blew the end of the Saints-Rams playoff game.
The new rule change that the NFL has adopted will allow coaches to use their challenges for pass interference calls, including the instance of a non-call, like in the NFC title game. Challenges will be permitted in the normal timeframe for these calls, but just when it comes to pass interference calls or non-calls. In the final two minutes of the half and end of the game, these will be subject to a booth review.
The rule change is not a permanent one but will be on a trial run for the 2019 season. Despite a flurry of ideas, It is the only significant rule change that was adopted in the March owners’ meetings.
How Will The NFL Rule Change Affect Betting Odds?
It is tough to say, but it will likely make the games longer, not from the time of game perspective, as the clock isn’t going to extend, but more time for official reviews, which means more commercials. Yeah, it sounds like an extra half hour of car and beer commercials with all these review breaks.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to translating this into how they affect NFL betting odds is how often these penalties are genuinely called. It seems like defensive pass interference is a rather common penalty due to its sometimes-major impact on the game, but in fact, it is not. It is only called an average of .93 times per game. Offensive pass interference is far less common and is called an average of .33 times per game.
When we add these two together, they are only called 1.26 times per game. So, what is the impact this change on betting odds? Well, likely minimal. The penalty is merely isn’t called nearly as much as others, such as offensive holding, where teams are penalized 2.77 per game. Still, pass interference is a significant call. Especially defensive pass interference, which is a spot foul and can move the ball drastically downfield and if it occurs in the end zone, will result in the ball being placed on the one-yard line.
However, we just don’t see the play happen enough to make enough of an impact on the game. In fact, it will likely be overhyped and over-stated compared to its actual on the field impact. Say what you want about NFL referees, but they still get the vast majority of calls correct.
The bottom line: The NFL rule changes may lengthen the amount of time a game takes to complete due to the further reviews, but I don’t see any significant impact on NFL sides and totals.