What to Expect from Pro Bowl’s Experimental Rule Changes

Typically, the Pro Bowl is known for all offense, little seriousness, and more fun for the players and coaches to celebrate another successful NFL season. For fans, it’s a buffer to hold over the excitement of the Super Bowl.

This year, the NFL will be implementing new rules to the Pro Bowl as a way to experiment and see if it will be a good fit for the league in the future. The NFL announced the following rule changes that they will be using in this year’s Pro Bowl, as defined by the league:

Options after a successful field goal or try attempt with no kickoff

The scoring team, Team A, has the following options:

Team A may elect to give Team B the ball at Team B’s 25-yard line, beginning a new series of downs with a first-and-10.

Team A may elect to take the ball at its own 25-yard line for a fourth-and-15 play.

If Team A is successful in making a first down, Team A will maintain possession and a new series of downs will continue as normal.

If Team A is unsuccessful in making a first down, the result will be a turnover on downs and Team B will take possession at the dead ball spot.

Not a false start on a flinch by a flexed receiver

It is not a false start if a flexed, eligible receiver in a two-point stance who flinches or picks up one foot, as long as his other foot remains partially on the ground and he resets for one second prior to the snap. A receiver who fits this exception is not considered to be “in motion” for the purposes of the Illegal Shift rules.

It is not a false start if all 11 offensive players have been set for at least one full second and any flexed, eligible receiver breaks his stance by picking up both feet.


The first rule change involving the new onside kick rules is similar to what they used in the Alliance of American Football last year before the league folded. This potential rule will add more offense to the game that is wanted by fans. It can also be another way to make onside kicks easier to convert and be more exciting. Another reason is that it could be seen as safer for the players as special teams have seen harder hits to players than other parts of the game.

Onside kicks have been especially harder to convert in the NFL this season with the rule changes to how kickoffs are designed now. This season, we saw only three out of 30 onside kicks recovered. This new rule should make conversions easier for teams and give the offense the edge on keeping the ball in their hands.

This was a rule that has been brought up as the Denver Broncos were wanting the NFL to adopt the rule back in March after seeing it in the AAF. It will seem odd to everyday football fans, but a rule like this could help make the game exciting. AAF fans didn’t see much of it so it isn’t known quite yet if this rule will work or not, but it should be an element of excitement to the game should the AFC or NFC decide to use it.

For the new false start rule, too many times we have seen a receiver flinch before and get called on a false start for such a quick movement. This could be a way for the league to speed up the game as, while it is a subtle rule change, it will eliminate stoppages in the game. The league has seen way too many false starts penalties that have angered fans so this rule should make it better.

Whether these rules actually move forward in the next few years is yet to be known, but expect to see more drastic rule changes used in the Pro Bowl. The NFL needs to take advantage of this time and use the preseason as well to test new rules out to determine if they will good for the future of the league. We may not see too much of either rule used, but it will be intriguing for fans to see when they are presented.

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