NFL owners approve playoff expansion for 2020 season, adding one team per conference

The NFL voted on Tuesday to expand the league’s playoffs for the 2020 season. During a conference call that included each of the league’s 32 owners, the 24 votes (75%) needed to expand the playoffs for the 2020 season was reached, as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The NFL’s expanded postseason proposal, which was agreed upon by the players as part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, will include 14 teams, seven from each conference. Twelve teams will play on wild card weekend, while the two No. 1 seeds will receive a playoff bye. The three division winners that didn’t receive the bye will host the three wild card teams, while the top seed will face the lowest remaining seed in the divisional round.

If the new format had existed in 2019, the No. 2-seeded Chiefs would have hosted the No. 7-seed Steelers in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs, with the top-seeded Ravens awaiting the lowest remaining seed in the second round. On the NFC side, the No. 2-seeded Packers would have hosted the No. 7-seeded Rams, with the top-seeded 49ers playing the lowest of the remaining seed in the second round. 

Considering the 8-8 Steelers and 9-7 Rams would have made the playoffs had the postseason been expanded this past season, it appears that winning 10 games would almost guarantee a playoff spot moving forward. Since the NFL expanded the postseason in 1990, 10 different 10-win teams failed to make the playoffs. Under the league’s new format, only the 2010 Buccaneers would have still missed out on the postseason, with the other nine 10-win teams qualifying for the postseason.

The NFL will wait at least until 2021 to increase its regular season from 16 to 17 games. The only time the NFL extended its regular season and postseason in the same year was back in 1978, when the regular season went from 14 to 16 games, while the playoff field was expanded by two teams.

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