Owners to vote on approval of expanded NFL playoff format next week, per report

The 14-team NFL playoff is one step closer to fruition. NFL owners will vote on approval of the expanded playoff format next week via a conference call, per Judy Battista of NFL.com. It’s the same week the owners were expected to meet for the annual league meeting before that was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Owners need 75% of the vote (24 of 32) for the expanded playoff format to go into effect for the 2020 season. 

Under the expanded playoff, seven teams from the NFC and seven from the AFC would qualify for the postseason, an increase from the six in each conference that has been in effect since the playoffs were last expanded in 1990. Only one team from each conference would receive a first-round bye, which would be granted to the No. 1 seed in the conference. 

Six teams from each conference would play on wild card weekend. The three division winners other than the top seed would host home playoff games on the first weekend, with all three wild cards from each conference as the visiting team. The top seed would play the lowest remaining seed in the next round while the winners of the other two first-round games would play each other. 

Here’s how the new playoff format would look in each conference: 

Wild Card Round

  • No. 1 seed: Bye
  • No. 2 vs. No. 7
  • No. 3 vs. No. 6
  • No. 4 vs. No. 5

Divisional Round

  • No. 1 seed vs. lowest remaining seed
  • Winners of other two games that aren’t lowest remaining seed

Championship Game

  • Winners of divisional playoff games

The expanded playoff format will give two extra teams an opportunity to reach the postseason, which means 43.8% of the league qualifies for the playoffs (an increase from 37.5%). There were 28 teams in the league when the NFL last expanded its postseason format in 1990, which equated to 42.9% of the league making the playoffs. There wouldn’t be much difference in percentage of teams qualifying for the postseason from the last time the format expanded. 

The league will have to decide how to format the games for TV purposes, although the popular format is a wild card tripleheader on Saturday and Sunday of that weekend. There’s the potential of a Monday night wild card game, but the winner of that one would be facing a short week heading into the divisional round. 

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