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What the New Rule Changes Mean for the 2024 NFL Season

The NFL introduces new rules changes each season, designed to make the game fairer, more exciting and safer for the athletes. While the changes can sometimes be controversial, they’ve helped football grow into the most popular sport in North America, and the continued dominance of the NFL is a great example of why tweaks to a winning formula are sometimes needed. For the 2024 season, the franchise owners have agreed on changes to tackling, replay challenges and kickoffs.

Before the season begins, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these changes and learn what they mean for the NFL going forward. In the past, even small changes have made a big difference to NFL betting lines and the fortunes of teams and players. Let’s take a look at these changes and what they mean.

New Kickoff Rule

The biggest change for the 2024 season is the new kickoff, which is hoped will make things more interesting. In previous seasons, kickoffs have mostly resulted in touchbacks which are dull to watch. The new kickoff rule is taken directly from the XFL, and it should not only result in a higher number of returns, but also limit the number of high-speed collisions that can often make kickoffs dangerous.

According to the new rule, the kicks will still be taken from 35 yards. However, the position of all other players will be different. Rather than being in line with the kicker, the kick coverage players will line up at the opposing 40. The return team will have a minimum of nine blockers in the set-up zone between 30 and 35. In addition, up to two returners will be allowed within the 20.

One of the key features of this rule is that only the kicker and two returners are able to move until the ball hits the ground or is touched by a returner inside the 20. Last season saw an all-time low of just 21% of kickoffs being returned. In addition, kickoffs were one of the most dangerous plays, resulting in a lot of concussions. The new changes will mean a higher number of returns and potentially more points being scored too.

New Video Replay Challenges

Instant replays first began to be used by the NFL since 1986. Over the years, the process has become faster and more efficient, but some fans and coaches still believe it could be improved. The new rules include the fact that teams will be able to challenge a third ruling after a successful challenge. Previously, a club would only receive a third challenge if it won its first two. This season, teams will only need to win a single challenge to receive a third.

The instant replay challenges can now be used in other situations during a game too. If there was intentional roughing of the passer or if the clock expired before the ball was snapped, teams can  successfully challenge and overturn decisions. Additionally, replays can be used to verify whether a quarterback was down or out of bounds before making a pass.

Hip Drop Tackling Banned

Aside from changing the rules on kickoffs, the NFL also sought to improve safety by banning a specific type of tackle. Hip drop tackling is where a defensive player wraps up an opposition player and brings down their weight over their leg. It has resulted in a high number of injuries, which are avoidable if this type of tackle is banned.

However, despite the potential benefits that it will bring, the move has been very unpopular with many NFL defenders. Additionally, the NFL Player’s Association disagreed with the rule change. 

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