Report: NFL Plans To Expand Postseason Field To Seven Teams Per Conference
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BOSTON (CBS) — On the heels of a thoroughly exciting weekend of NFL playoff action, the league is reportedly aiming to add even more teams to the postseason.
Dan Patrick said on his radio show on Monday morning that NFL plans to add one more wild card to each conference, a move that would expand the playoff field from six to seven teams per conference. Andrew Perloff from The Dan Patrick Show tweeted the news on Monday.
Under the current system, the top two teams in each conference earn a first-round bye, but with the playoff field expanding to seven, it would stand to reason that only one team would get a first-round bye, with the second seed playing the seventh seed, the third playing the sixth and the fourth playing the fifth.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweeted that the NFL said no decision has been made, and that such a change “would have to be voted on by owners… To this point it hasn’t been presented to them. Of course, it could be at May meeting. [Patrick] may have inside info that enough votes are there [to support the change].”
The current system gives playoff berths to the four division winners in each conference, with two wild-card teams filling out the playoff field. Since the wild card was introduced in 1970, just six wild-card teams have won the Super Bowl (2010 Packers, 2007 Giants, 2005 Steelers, 2000 Ravens, 1997 Broncos, 1980 Raiders).
Had the playoff field included seven teams per conference this season, the 10-6 Cardinals would have been the third wild card in the NFC and the 8-8 Steelers would have been the third wild card in the AFC. The Patriots and Panthers, both 12-4, would not have had a first-round bye and instead would have played the Steelers and Cardinals, respectively, this past weekend.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the topic back in October, saying, “If expanding the postseason would allow other teams to get into the dance, and they have the potential of going on and winning the Super Bowl, that’s a good thing for fans, that a good thing competitively.”
Goodell also said in October that such a change could not go into effect until the 2015 season, due to scheduling issues in 2014.