Since 1990, 12 NFL teams—six each from the AFC and NFC—have been eligible to qualify for the postseason each year.
But the league is seriously bandying about adding an extra playoff team in each conference, and even though the idea was tabled until the fall, meaning the 2014 postseason won't be expanded, most feel it's only a matter of time before the measure is passed.
And even though it won't happen this year, figuring out which teams would benefit the most from an expanded postseason in 2014 provides a glimpse into their potential fortunes.
First, let me explain how I chose the six teams listed in this column. In order to merit selection, a team cannot be one of my top-two choices to win its respective division (except the teams in the jumbled AFC East behind New England). While some of these choices may seem controversial, it's how I currently see the season playing out.
Teams that I could easily see making the playoffs in their current format are not eligible for this list. Those clubs are the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
Some teams were automatically disqualified, as they wouldn't qualify for the postseason even with an added spot available. Those franchises are the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings.
And the last paring came as a matter of personal preference. For example, I believe that the New York Giants and Washington Redskins will both finish ahead of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, meaning that the expanded playoffs would benefit the Cowboys more than either the Giants or Redskins. The rationale for each team's inclusion is explained in its slide.
Here are the teams that would benefit most from expanded NFL playoffs.