NFL owners will consider a series of proposed rules changes when they meet next week in Orlando, Fla., including a potentially significant tweak to replay review, longer extra-point tries and moving kickoffs from the 35-yard line to the 40.
One proposal that most likely will not be approved is expanding the playoff field from 12 teams to 14. Although the competition committee supports adding two wild cards (one from each conference), it has not recommended that a permanent change be put up for a vote.
The replay review proposal would allow communication between the referee and the league office in New York to discuss a play.
Referees have decided the outcome of a review by observing replays on a monitor. If owners approve the change, director of officiating Dean Blandino could contact the referee to discuss the review and offer his assistance and opinion on a given play.
The idea is to establish consistency from game to game by having a centralized communication system.
The Patriots submitted several proposals, including having the line of scrimmage for PAT kicks moved from the 2-yard line to the 25, making it a 43-yard attempt. With only five missed extra points last season, the PAT has become virtually automatic. For a two-point conversion, the ball still would be placed at the 2.
With 24 owners needed to approve any rules change, it's expected that the Patriots' proposal will not pass. If that is the case, the league would have one preseason weekend this year in which the line of scrimmage for PAT tries would be the 20.
The Patriots also have proposed that the height of the goal posts be raised 5 feet so that officials can better determine whether a field-goal try directly over the goal post is good or not.
That the Patriots proposed the change isn't a surprise. Coach Bill Belichick argued about a last-second field goal that went over the right upright in a 31-30 loss to the Ravens early in the 2012 season. Belichick was so incensed that he grabbed a replacement official's shirt to ask for an explanation as the teams ran off the field.
One proposal expected to pass involves fumble recoveries, similar to the one made by 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman against the Seahawks in last season's NFC Championship Game.
Bowman clearly recovered Jermaine Kearse's fumble while falling, but an ensuing collision knocked the ball loose as Bowman suffered a serious knee injury. The Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch recovered, but the play was not reviewable because it wasn't in the end zone or on a boundary line. Under the current proposal, such a play would be reviewable.