Steelers GM Kevin Colbert ‘excited’ for new playoff format, says 12 teams wasn’t enough

The NFL will go from 12 to 14 playoff teams in 2020 after the league’s owners voted to expand the postseason earlier this week. 

While not every NFL owner and general manager has expressed their feelings on the expanded playoffs, it’s assumed, based on the fact that the league needed 75% approval from owners to pass the vote, that mostly everyone is in favor of the expanded playoffs. Among those in favor of them is Steelers veteran general manager Kevin Colbert, whose team just missed the playoffs in 2012, 2013, 2018 and last season — and would have reached it as the No. 7 seed in all those years under the new format.

“I am excited about (the extended postseason),” Colbert said, via Teresa Varley of “Not that we want too many teams in the playoffs, but I thought 12 was a little too little. Maybe that 17th game will be influential in who those extra teams will be. The more teams we can have compete for a championship, the better it will be for our game.”

The NFL, in general, has tried to bring parity to the league over the past three decades, starting with the inception of the salary cap and free agency in the early 1990s. While several dynasties have taken place since that time (most notably the ’90s Cowboys and the modern-day Patriots), the league has experienced more parity since these changes were implemented.

In the 1970s, the first full decade of Super Bowl play, only five teams won the Super Bowl, with the Steelers, Cowboys and Dolphins combining to win eight of the Super Bowls during that 10-year span. That was the same number of teams that won the Super Bowl in the 1980s, with the NFC winning a whopping eight of the Super Bowls during the decade (they won 13 straight Super Bowls from 1984-97). But after the Cowboys’ dynasty ran its course in the late ’90s, only two teams — the late ’90s Broncos and the ’03-04 Patriots — have won back-to-back Super Bowls. And while New England has remained the league’s dominant team, six different teams won the Super Bowl in the 2000s, with the ’05 Steelers becoming the first sixth seed to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

A record eight teams won the Super Bowl during the 2010s, with no team repeating as champion. And while a team that secured a playoff bye has won the last seven Super Bowls, the decade began with three teams from the wild card round (the ’10 Packers, ’11 Giants and ’12 Ravens) winning three playoff games before vanquishing their Super Bowl foe. While the top two seeds in each conference were awarded a bye in years past, only the top seeds from each conference will receive a week off under the new playoff format.

Not everyone likes the increased parity, but the NFL has never been more popular, and the increased odds that each team has at being successful is likely one of the reasons for the league’s recent success. That success has also inspired the league to eventually include a 17th game into its regular season, something that will likely happen in 2021. Like the expanded playoff format, Colbert thinks the extended regular season will also be a positive change for the league. 

“That is something that our league and players association agreed on,” Colbert said of the extended season. “It will be exciting to have that extra game.”

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