There's a chance the midnight deadline could be extended, but the two sides can't even agree on that.
NFL.com is reporting that the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have discussed stopping the clock, so the two sides can continue to negotiate without a lockout taking effect. But the players side wants to make sure this is not a delay tactic, and wants the league to include language in the extension offer that will ensure progress. So even with an apparently minor issue like this one, the players and owners can't agree.
Also being reported, the two parties that are physically in the negotiating room have the power to agree to stop the clock on their own, without seeking approval from people outside the room. Also, if they do decide to extend the deadline, they have to get the paperwork filed late this afternoon, because it would require Judge David Doty's signature, and apparently he's not going to wait around all night just in case they need his signature.
From everything I've read and listened to, I really have very little idea what to expect. I kind of think they'll extend the deadline, because it sounds like the two sides are working in good faith and making some progress (they're still sitting at the table, and neither side has walked out).
But I do think a lockout is inevitable, and you know who agrees with me? Oddsmakers! The website BetUS.com has set odds for the lockout:
Odds there will there be a lockout:
Yes -- 1/3
No -- 2/1
Odds the regular season will start on time -- 2/1
Odds there is no Super Bowl in 2012 -- 50/1
So, odds are there will be a lockout, but that it won't affect the season, and there is only a tiny chance it affects the Super Bowl. And if someone gave me $50 to bet on whether the season starts on time or not, I'm not sure how I would bet it. It's that close in my mind.