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Should We Be Surprised by an NFL Game Ending in a Tie?

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals
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How often do NFL games end in a tie? It feels like they happen a lot more than what they actually do.

If you stayed up to watch the 6-6 tie between Seattle and Arizona on Sunday Night Football then bless your soul. The only redeeming part of the game was the fact that the kicker on each team blew the win on what should have been easy field goals. Every other part of that game was nothing more than a punter showdown.

Darren Rovell tweeted that Las Vegas sports books typically don’t put odds on ties because they don’t happen that often.

But are they? The formatted overtime/tie rules started in the 1974 season. In the timeframe between 1974-1989, 13 games were played to a tie (two of which featured the Minnesota Vikings). It was almost eight years to the dot that the next tie would occur in November 1997.

Eight games have ended in a tie over since that 10-10 game between Philadelphia and Baltimore in 1997. What’s maybe more surprising is that there have been streaks since 1997 when it comes to tie games. 1997 featured two games ending in a tie, and then the next two ties didn’t come until 2002 and 2008.

Weirdly though, a tie has occurred each NFL season from 2012-2016 except for 2015.

  • 11/12/2012 – San Francisco 49ers/St. Louis Rams 24-24
  • 11/23/2013 – Green Bay Packers/Minnesota Vikings 26-26
  • 10/12/2014 – Cincinnati Bengals/Carolina Panthers 37-37
  • 2015 – NONE
  • 10/24/2016 – Arizona Cardinals/Seattle Seahawks 6-6.

At least the other ties since 2012 had some form of scoring attached to them.

But should we be surprised over ties in the NFL? Might not feel like it, but we should with only 21 of them over the last 42 years.

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