Thursday, March 27, 2014
NFL Nation Says: Expand the playoffs?
By David Newton
The NFL may be expanding the playoff field as early as the 2015 season.
Is bigger really better? That's what the NFL is trying to decide when it comes to expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams.
There wasn't a vote on it this week during the owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., but it was talked about in great detail with the goal to make it reality by 2015.
"I think there's a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support, but there are also things we want to make sure we do it right," commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday, the final day of the meetings. "We've been very incremental when trying to do this. But we believed it could make our races toward the end of the season even more exciting, [with] more teams vying for playoffs positions, which is great for our fans."
The next step comes April 8, when Goodell will discuss an expanded playoffs with the NFL Players Association. The union fought expansion of the regular season from 16 to 18 games, which is why an expanded playoffs has gained momentum.
This should be an easier sell. It will add two more games to the playoffs, thus two more games worth of revenue.
Many owners and coaches believe the positives far outweigh the negatives. It would put more emphasis on being the top seed in each conference, because that would be the only team with a first-round bye instead of the current two.
It also would make it less likely that a hot team would miss the playoffs, as the Arizona Cardinals (10-6) did last season, while the Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) got in as a division champion.
Here's how it would work: Seeds 2-7 in each conference would play in the wild-card round, with No. 2 facing No. 7 and so forth. One of the scenarios discussed during the meetings was a three-day weekend, with two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday night.
The competition committee is in favor of expanded playoffs. The idea appears to have enough support from the owners to get the 24 of 32 votes needed for approval.
Here's what NFL owners/coaches/general managers said to NFL Nation reporters about expanded playoffs during the owners meetings: