The New England Patriots are the No. 1 seed in the 2011 NFL Playoffs, and as such, have a bye Wild Card Weekend, allowing them a week of rest as they prepare to host a Divisional Round game Dec. 16. It's also a good time to remind themselves of those new overtime rules the league could be debuting this postseason.
Mainly, there is no more sudden death in overtime in the playoffs. If the game is tied at the end of regulation, then both teams will get a possession in overtime. Unless the receiving team scores a touchdown on the first possession. Or if the team on defense records a safety on that initial possession. Then the game's over.
Under these new rules, if the receiving team kicks a field goal on their first possession, the game is not over -- the other team then gets a possession of their own. If they match with a field goal, then it becomes sudden death from there on out; if they score a touchdown, then the game's over. Also, any kind of defensive score would end the game.
And it's likely we'll see this new format in 2011 -- there has been at least one overtime game in nine of the past 10 postseasons, including two last year (thought just three in the 1990s).
Obviously, change and something they can't fully prepare for does not sit well with the coaches:
"We haven't talked about it yet, but I know we will,'' said an assistant coach of an NFC playoff team. "It's something that's completely new. There's nothing even remotely close to refer back to.
"A ton of new options come into play now. You're going to try to have a plan but, really, you're going to be flying by the seat of your pants. No, I'm not a fan.''
For a complete breakdown of the new NFL overtime rules, visit NFL.com.