With the National Football League considering the possibility of adding an additional wild-card team to each conference for the playoffs, there has to be a way to squeeze in two more games for the first weekend of the postseason.
According to league commissioner Roger Goodell, the solution may be to restructure the playoff schedule as fans and franchises have come to know it, expanding it to include Fridays and Mondays.
Sports Illustrated's Brett LoGiurato reported on Monday, Jan. 20, that Goodell discussed the possibility on NFL Network, but that the radical change likely wouldn't take place until 2015 at the earliest:
The big discussion would be the first weekend, the wild card weekend of the playoffs, how would you structure that? Three on Saturday, three on Sunday? We’re looking at every alternative. ... Could you play a game on Friday night, two on Saturday, two on Sunday and another on Monday? You want to balance all that with the competitive issues that come with that. Is that a smart thing for us to do? Those are the things that we’re going to be studying.
It seems as though Goodell is doing whatever he can to enhance the NFL product. Player safety has been a big issue during his tenure, but his recent efforts—which include a proposed abolishing of the extra point, per NFL.com's Marc Sessler—have been the source of controversy.
This potential schedule expansion for the playoffs should be no different. Here is a look at a snippet of the interview with Rich Eisen, courtesy of NFL Network's official Twitter account:
Should the NFL expand the playoff field?
Forcing teams to jump from the regular-season finale right into the postseason after just five days' rest for a Friday game seems unfair. While the victor would get additional rest afterward, the reduced time to prepare might diminish the quality of the game—in addition to backfiring from a player-safety perspective.
Then, there are the challenges facing the team that plays on Monday. Even if a team does advance, it will be on a short week to game-plan for what will likely be one of the league's elite teams coming off of a bye.
As inconvenient as the prospective change to the schedule may be for the teams participating, they would inevitably adapt over time—even if the initial returns weren't what the league was hoping for.
That's unlikely, though, because the addition of two playoff teams would by rule keep every squad in the postseason hunt later into the season, making the race to determine the seeds all the more exciting and inclusive.