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Owners Approve Expanding Postseason to 14 Teams

Get used to a 14-team tournament field. The NFL owners have formally voted to add an extra wild-card team in each conference, with the 2 seeds hosting the 7 seeds on wild-card weekend, and only the 1 seeds getting first-round byes. 

One interesting note on playoff expansion is where the games will be broadcast. "The league announced NBC and CBS would broadcast the additional wild card games," writes Kevin Patra of NFL.com, noting that there would be triple-headers on Saturday and Sunday, January 9 and 10. "In addition to CBS' extra broadcast on January 9 -- which also will be carried via a livestream on CBS All Access -- the NFL noted a separately produced telecast of the game will air on Nickelodeon, tailored for a younger audience."

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21 comments, Last at 06 Apr 2020, 10:48am

1 It's not a huge deal, but it…

It's not a huge deal, but it's getting close to half the NFL being in the playoffs. I don't want sub-.500 teams in the playoffs.

6 But it has happened* (sub…

But it has happened* (sub 500) and it lead to BeastQuake, hailed by some as the best run of all time.


But I agree, 14 of 32 is 2 too many and cheapens the achievement of making the playoffs.


*though not by wildcard.

11 The BeastQuake game is…

The BeastQuake game is precisely why I hate this. The run is great; there is no denying that. But I felt the NFL made the playoffs a joke by including a sub-.500 team. If anything, a team winning a division should not also be rewarded with a home game when the team couldn't even win half their games. The reward is getting to the playoffs despite sucking. 

2 Easy to be resistant to…

Easy to be resistant to change, but I don't like this. The 7th seed is usually going to be a massive longshot to reach the Super Bowl, so it really adds nothing in terms of intrigue. It disrupts what was a nice equilibrium in terms of incremental advantage for each step of the seeding ladder. Now there is a fairly negligible difference between finishing #2, and #3 or #4, which may well have knock on effects with end of regular season games. And 6 back to back games over a single weekend is just overkill, even for the most ardent fan.

3 My problem with it is that…

My problem with it is that even though the 7th seed would be a massive longshot, there's still a non-zero chance that it'll happen, and this changes only increases the odds we get an 8-8 or (perish the thought) 7-9 team in the super bowl. Sure, the team would have to beat the 2-,1-, and probably the 3- or 5-seed in consecutive weeks on the road for it to happen, but I'm just annoyed that it's a real possibility now.

Agree about the back-to-back games. Networks aside, I think the best solution would've been to have them all the wildcard games be on one day. AFC on CBS, NFC on Fox, with progressively closer matchups; 7-seed at 2-seed at 1:00, 6-3 at 4:00, 5-4 as SNF (and maybe one of those could be NBC and the other ESPN). Sure, you won't be able to watch all the games, but for the fan without a rooting interest, you'd have the option of switching rather than sitting through a stinker.

12 It will be very unlikely for…

It will be very unlikely for the 7 seed to reach the Super Bowl, but it won't be that unlikely for them to get lucky and knock off the 2 seed. That's one of the reasons this is bad. A 2 seed could very well be the best team in the conference or the whole league and seeing them go out early will suck. We are now much more likely to see lackluster championship games between a 1 seed and some badly outmatched team.

21 I don't get too hung up on…

I don't get too hung up on the idea of less deserving teams making it deep into the playoffs. Obviously more teams will slightly dilute the quality, but if all we wanted was to know was who were the best teams, we wouldn't bother with playoffs in the first place, we'd just have a (longer) regular season. My main issue is I just don't think this adds anything at all to the spectacle of the playoffs for the fan (unless you relish watching 20 hours of football over the course of a weekend), and disrupts what was a well-balanced system. 

4 Not a huge fan of this…

Not a huge fan of this. Making the playoffs really loses its lustre as a team accomplishment, and I'd say that you have to play at least in round 2 to automatically call the season a good one.

5 The whole nfl bye structure…

The whole nfl bye structure is ridiculous. Now, not only will teams be playing an extra week, they have reduced the number of bye's teams can get.

Again, the minimum guys benefitted from this deal, but the dude's playing lots of snaps did not.

And running backs got even more screwed from this cba than they already were.

7 This wouldn't help the…

This wouldn't help the playoff structure (which I also fear is going to suck), but since you brought up byes - do we know for sure that the NFL can't or won't add a second bye week during the regular season? It seems like they haven't finalized the details of how the 17 game schedule will work yet, and though there was speculation about it leading up to the passage of the CBA, I haven't noticed anything that definitively says "there will be no second bye week" since then.

Article below says there's supposed to be an extra bye week after the preseason, but it seems to me like that isn't really needed since the preseason typically ends on a Thursday and starters probably aren't going to play in that last game anyway. And that wouldn't preclude another regular season bye week, either.



9 NFL continues to dilute its…

NFL continues to dilute its quality by polishing up turds to pass off as diamonds. But people still seem to want to buy into it so who am I to tell Roger this is a bad idea.

Part of me wants to believe that only having two wildcards with four division winners going through has always killed some of the excitement of the regular season but quick look back at what we could have had:

2019 - Steelers 8-8, Bears/Cowboys 8-8
2018 - Steelers 9-6-1, Vikings 8-7-1
2017 - Ravens/Chargers 9-7, Cowboys 9-7
2016 - Titans 9-7, Bucs 9-7
2015 - Jets 10-6, Falcons 8-8
2014 - Bills/Texans/Chiefs/Chargers 9-7, Eagles 10-6

That's not much of a list. I want to see a double-digit wins in the playoffs not barely above average.

17 That 2017 Ravens squad was…

That 2017 Ravens squad was top 10 in DVOA but was miserable in close games. This was the team that went into week 17 needing just one of three results to go their way, allowed Andy Dalton to convert 4th and a mile in the last minute of the game, and ended the Bills playoff drought.

13 Rewarding mediocrity to a…

Rewarding mediocrity to a greater degree is not a good development. One of the problems is this makes it much harder to compete for a bye while also significantly easier to qualify for the playoffs. There will be more teams at the end of the season who are assured of a playoff spot but have no shot at the top seed and thus have very little to play for. Say hello to more meaningless or almost meaningless games and, in general, a less compelling and impactful regular season. One of the big advantages the NFL has always had is that their regular season remains much more important in comparison to the MLB, NBA, and NHL. This chips away at that advantage. We are also a lot less likely to have the genuine top teams playing at the end stage in the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.

14 I don't like it but we knew…

I don't like it but we knew this was coming - the money was too great a lure. Since it's a given (the league isn't going back) that 14 teams will make the playoffs, the way to reduce the percentage of teams making the playoffs is expansion. The arguments against expansion are quality of play and fan experience, but for it are the same as a bigger playoff field: money.

A few franchises will see their value decrease because of increased supply, but the increased revenue would probably help most.

Here's a list of the top US media markets without an NFL franchise (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_television_markets):

18. Orlando
20. Sacramento
22. Portland
23. St. Louis
27. Raleigh-Durham
29. San Diego
30. Salt Lake City

So almost a quarter of the top 30 media markets don't have teams. And that doesn't include Toronto as a possibility. San Antonio is #31. While a case can easily be made against several of these cities, I think finding four locations from these nine options wouldn't be hard. I will not be surprised if there are 36 teams by the end of the new CBA.

15 I personally I'm in favor of…

I personally I'm in favor of expansion, because I think there's still a lot of talent that doesn't get enough development time. So I don't think it would dilute things as badly as claimed (tho QB remains a different matter).


I expect London and Toronto to get their own teams in the near future before I see Sacramento or Orlando. I'm honestly surprised someone doesn't move to SF or Oakland as the Bay Area has the economy to support two teams.

16 I'm not sure the current…

I'm not sure the current ownership want to share the revenues they have with anyone else. They'd have to increase them by over 12% just to get back to where they are. Any franchise fee is small beans.

Personally I'm not convinced a London franchise would be a long-term success - the game just isn't *that* popular in Britain. I think it's easier (less logistics and more profitable) to create a slate of fixtures for the whole regular season than run a team out of Britain.

Isn't that what the 17th game is really about? Having a round of foreign games. Expanding into markets worldwide but only renting the stadium to get the fans not making a full-blooded commitment. They can try wherever they want including China, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Germany etc, etc.

20 I don't think so - it's not…

I don't think so - it's not a game we grow up with - we don't have the facilities, coaching knowledge or infrastructure for it. This is why the NFL is doing an academy to try and pluck the best athletes rather than promote a grassroots version of the game. It's a similar issue to how soccer has struggled to get into the U.S.   And that's a much simpler game logistically to organise, play or understand as a casual viewer.  It's taken years for MLS to get itself to success. The NFL doesn't have that kind of patience.

Ultimately Brits are quite resistant to foreign things - see how we've Brexited out of Europe.  When the BBC publishes articles about American football (which it does to support its magazine show coverage), you still get a lot of comments about "players are soft wearing pads, not like rugby players" or "why's it called football when they don't use their feet".  That said, many of the people who voted to Brexit are over 50y.o. and the younger generation would have liked to stay in Europe and are more open-minded and that's where the NFL is pushing its market.

From what I can make out the TV viewing figures for a week total just under a million per week at best.  It's fine going to one or two games at Wembley for an experience but is that enough to fill a 60,000 stadium on gameday for 8 games per year, year after year? It's expensive and a lot of travel if you don't live within 100-miles of London, it's a big journey. And there's a significant portion of Britain who don't live near London.

Going back to my original point. I rarely meet anyone else who is a big fan of the NFL. I meet people who know of it and are not disparaging about it. But I know very few friends, work colleagues or acquaintances over the years who'd say they follow such and such a team. Whereas I know people who enjoy watching EPL or F1 motor racing and will get into loud discussions or arguments about those things.  That leads me to believe there isn't enough of a passionate fanbase willing to support a London franchise. And they need to be passionate for it to be a success.