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NFL ties are contagious and 5 more fun facts on the worst outcome in football

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If history repeats itself, there will be no more ties in the NFL this season.

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After two weeks of football, we’ve seen two ties in the NFL. The first came when the Steelers tied the Browns in Week 1. The second was also in a divisional matchup, this one between the Vikings and Packers in Week 2.

Those ties could have playoff implications, especially since they happened among division rivals. But two weeks and two ties? The truth is in all likelihood we won’t see another tie game this year. Since the NFL instituted sudden-death overtime in 1974, there’s never been a season that featured more than two tie games.

NFL ties since sudden-death overtime began in 1974

Year Game Date Away Team Home Team Points Scored
Year Game Date Away Team Home Team Points Scored
2018 Sep 16, 2018 Minnesota Vikings Green Bay Packers 29
2018 Sep 9, 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Cleveland Browns 21
2016 Oct 30, 2016 Washington Redskins Cincinnati Bengals 27
2016 Oct 23, 2016 Seattle Seahawks Arizona Cardinals 6
2014 Oct 12, 2014 Cincinnati Bengals Carolina Panthers 37
2013 Nov 24, 2013 Minnesota Vikings Green Bay Packers 26
2012 Nov 11, 2012 San Francisco 49ers St. Louis Rams 24
2008 Nov 16, 2008 Philadelphia Eagles Cincinnati Bengals 13
2002 Nov 10, 2002 Pittsburgh Steelers Atlanta Falcons 34
1997 Nov 23, 1997 Washington Redskins New York Giants 7
1997 Nov 16, 1997 Baltimore Ravens Philadelphia Eagles 10
1989 Nov 19, 1989 Kansas City Chiefs Cleveland Browns 10
1988 Oct 2, 1988 New York Jets Kansas City Chiefs 17
1987 Sep 20, 1987 Green Bay Packers Denver Broncos 17
1986 Dec 7, 1986 Philadelphia Eagles St. Louis Cardinals 10
1986 Oct 19, 1986 San Francisco 49ers Atlanta Falcons 10
1984 Nov 4, 1984 Philadelphia Eagles Detroit Lions 23
1983 Oct 24, 1983 New York Giants St. Louis Cardinals 20
1982 Dec 19, 1982 Green Bay Packers Baltimore Colts 20
1981 Oct 4, 1981 New York Jets Miami Dolphins 28
1980 Oct 12, 1980 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Green Bay Packers 14
1978 Nov 26, 1978 Minnesota Vikings Green Bay Packers 10
1976 Sep 19, 1976 Los Angeles Rams Minnesota Vikings 10
1974 Sep 22, 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers Denver Broncos 35

In total, there have been 24 ties since 1974 and there were none in the 2017 NFL season. Interestingly, it almost seems like ties are contagious. In the four years in which there were two ties in the NFL (including this season) three of the four came in back-to-back weeks. I’m no statistician, but I can’t imagine the odds are great for that to occur.

Here are five more fun facts on NFL ties

1) Three teams involved in this year’s ties also have some of the most ties in NFL history. The Packers lead the league with six ties, followed by the Vikings and Eagles with four each and then the Steelers and Bengals with three each. No other team has more than two ties since sudden death overtime was introduced to the NFL in 1974.

2) Among active NFL head coaches, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has coached the most ties with three. Mike McCarthy is close behind with two ties of his own while coaching the Packers.

3) After the Eagles and Bengals ended a 2008 game in a 13-13 tie, Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb admitted he didn’t even know ties could happen. ”In college, there are multiple overtimes, and in high school and Pop Warner,” McNabb said. ”I never knew in the professional ranks it would end that way.” He wasn’t alone, many of his teammates admitted they also didn’t know NFL games could end in a tie.

4) Twenty-one of the NFL’s current 32 teams have played in a tie. The teams that have never been part of a tie are the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans.

5) Since sudden death overtime was initiated in 1974, the longest stretch of seasons with no ties came between 1989 and 1997. The average number of years between ties is 1.91. So in all likelihood, there will be no more ties in 2018 and we’ll see winners decided in all the remaining games this season.

Or at least that’s what we’re hoping. And until then, maybe the NFL will read our ideas on how to fix overtime so that professional sporting events do not end in ties going forward.