Under the current CBA proposal, the NFL will soon expand its playoff format to include seven teams from each conference rather than six.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL will soon expand its playoff field to include two additional teams. Under the current CBA proposal, seven teams from each conference — 14 total — will make the cut.
Schefter also reports that with this change, only the No. 1 seed from each conference will be gifted with a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The regular season would be increased from 16 games to 17, while the preseason would be shortened to three games. The 17-game season would not go into effect until 2021 if these new proposals are ratified.
Under the current NFL playoff structure, six teams from each conference make the cut. The top two seeds from each conference are given byes in the first round, while the 3-seed and the 6-seed face off, as well as the 4- and 5-seeds.
From there, the 1-seed plays the lowest remaining seed, while the 2-seed plays the highest remaining seed.
No official details have been reported yet, but under the new format, it appears as though the top seed from each conference will receive a bye, while the 2-seed and 7-seed will play, the 3-seed and 6-seed will face off and the 4-seed and 5-seed will play each other. This would most likely leave the 1-seed to play the lowest remaining seed, while the other two remaining teams to face off.
In a league with 32 teams, casual fans have often wondered why the playoff field is so small, especially since eight division winners are automatically gifted a playoff spot. That’s only left four wild card spots total, and there have been numerous occasions where a team gets a playoff spot simply for winning a lesser division, leaving more deserving teams with superior records to be squeezed out from the conference’s final six spots.
This change will open things up a bit more, even if it’s a minor tweak rather than fixing the main problem of automatically gifting division winners with a playoff spot.