Because there weren’t enough mediocre teams slipping into the NFL playoffs, the league’s team owners decided officially to allow more clubs into the postseason.
Expanded playoffs are coming, as expected, starting with the 2020 season the NFL announced. That option was an important part of the collective bargaining agreement talks which passed earlier this month.
And now we’ll have two more teams in the playoffs.
Playoffs will have 2 more games
The move from 12 to 14 will allow in one more team per conference. The positive to this is that more teams will be alive in the playoffs later into the season. The downside is that the 13th and 14th teams will be fairly average.
There is one main consideration for team owners: Two more playoff games that will create more revenue.
It won’t be hard for the NFL to structure the new-look playoffs. One team in each conference instead of two will get first-round byes, and there will be three games for each conference on wild-card weekend instead of two.
Ramifications to expanded playoffs
There will be ramifications to expanded playoffs, other than more money to the NFL.
Getting the No. 1 seed will be more important than ever, and swing many more conference championships. First-round byes don’t ensure Super Bowl runs, but teams that have wild-card weekend off have a much better chance of winning a conference title. And now there will be only one team resting in each conference instead of two.
Given that head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker, games between top teams in a conference late in the season will take on more significance. Previously, a No. 2 seed would get a bye. Now it’ll be playing on opening weekend against a team that previously wouldn’t have qualified in the field.
There are sometimes quality teams that get left out of the postseason because there were only two wild-card spots and sometimes more than two deserving teams. There were also seasons in which the first team out was 9-7 or 8-8. Given that the only edge a theoretical 13-3 No. 2 seed gets over a 8-8 No. 7 seed in a 14-team playoff bracket will be a home game in Round 1, expect the playoffs to be much more unpredictable and random.
There was no question the NFL was going to expand the playoffs. It has been a topic of conversation for years. And now it’s here.
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