Report: NFL Playoff Structure Could Change to 7 Teams Per Conference in New CBA

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2020

Footballs rest on the field before an NFL divisional playoff football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

There reportedly could be two more teams in the NFL playoffs as soon as the 2020 season.  

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the current collective bargaining proposal would put seven teams from each conference in the postseason with only the top seed on each side of the bracket receiving a bye. That is a change from the current structure, which features six teams from each conference in the playoffs and the top two seeds receiving byes.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," a source told Schefter. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

As Schefter noted, this would mark the first change to the playoff format in nearly two decades:

The league and the NFL Players Association are still trying to come to an agreement on issues such as whether there will be a 17-game regular season in the new CBA, which Schefter said "could be done sometime in the next week."

He noted the players would receive a larger share of the revenue with an expanded schedule:

Another positive change from the players' perspective is the proposal that teams with byes would receive postseason pay for Wild Card Weekend even though their team isn't in action. That is not the case for the two teams per conference with first-round byes under the current CBA.

It is easy to see why there is general agreement from both owners and players on expanding the postseason field to seven teams.

The expansion would give teams more opportunities to make the field and compete for a championship. Additional playoff teams and games mean increased opportunity for revenue from ticket sales and television broadcasts, and there will be more meaningful matchups late in the season for more teams. That will generate additional interest from fans and motivation for the players competing for championships.

The elimination of one first-round bye per conference is a drastic change and would have significantly impacted this past season's playoff field. The Kansas City Chiefs were the No. 2 seed in the AFC and did not have to play in the wild-card round before they eventually won the Super Bowl.

They would have been forced to play an additional playoff game in this proposed system, which could have opened the door for a potential upset.

There will be even more incentive for teams to battle for the No. 1 seed and that coveted bye if and when this new system goes into place.

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