Posted January 06, 2014

NFL reportedly expanding playoff field; league says ‘no such decision’ reached yet

NFL Playoffs
Roger Goodell has stated in the past that expanding the playoff field is a priority.

Roger Goodell has stated in the past that expanding the playoff field is a priority. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during the league’s fall meetings that expanding the playoff field is a priority. Though he set 2015 as the earliest date for implementing those changes, it appears that Goodell has kept the issue on the front burner.

SI’s Andrew Perloff tweeted Monday, via Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show, that “the NFL will add a wild card team in both conferences.”

Should that occur, 14 of the league’s 32 teams would qualify for the postseason — seven in each conference. Goodell also said during his October remarks that such a change would lead to three games per conference on wild-card weekend (currently, there are two), presumably with the No. 1 overall seeds receiving byes. From there, No. 2 would host No. 7, No. 3 would host No. 6, and No. 4 would host No. 5; the divisional round then would pare down to four teams per conference, as it does now.
MORE COVERAGE: Wild-card Snaps | Divisional round preview | Schedule, results

However, a league spokesman, via SI’s Richard Deitsch, said that “there’s been no such decision.

“It would require a vote of the clubs and it has not yet been taken up with them. If it’s taken up this year, it would happen at the annual meeting in March. The agenda for the meeting has not been formulated.”

That’s less a denial than a postponement of the discussion. Goodell pointed out that the competition committee would handle the change at those annual meetings. Last year, the committee shot down a similar plan.

But expect Goodell to try again.

“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,” he said at the fall meetings.

According to NFL.com, a seven-team-per-conference format would not be enacted until at least 2015 due to scheduling issues.

Had that format been in place this season, Pittsburgh and Arizona would have qualified for the playoffs in the AFC and NFC, respectively. The Steelers finished with an 8-8 record and were nipped at the wire by San Diego; the Cardinals missed out on the postseason despite finishing 10-6 — a record that topped NFC North champion Green Bay’s 8-7-1 mark and matched that of 10-6 NFC East champ Philadelphia.

176 comments
HenryTeixeira
HenryTeixeira

the Cardinals went 10-6 and missed the playoffs they deserved to be in the playoffs more then GreenBay and Philadelphia

AF Whigs
AF Whigs

If they add two more Wildcards, that's fine, but why not get rid of the divisional requirement with them?  All Divisional winners make it, then the Wildcards are the teams with the next best records.  The divisions in the NFL are meaningless, anyway, so why keep the teams artificially separated?

jeffcooper71
jeffcooper71

Please expand the field so that their are no first round bye's.

AndrewM1
AndrewM1

Yes, certainly, because the abundance of teams at 8-8 flailing for that last spot this year definitely cries out for ANOTHER team being added to the elite field of final contenders.

x72
x72

Packers shouldn't have made the playoffs. Instead they should have stuck to their day jobs of milking cows.

nexxas
nexxas

Talk about resting players!!! ... HORRIBLE IDEA. Just reseed. What a joke

NebojsaTodorovic
NebojsaTodorovic

To me, a strong draw to the NFL is how relevant every game of regular season is...  If the NFL makes the regular season a little less relevant, I might do something else than watch games during regular season.  Sure, I'll still play fantasy football and root for my team, but I'm pretty sure I'll skip a few more games with expanded playoffs.

mangstadt
mangstadt

It doesn't sound like a bad idea but eventually it should be eight teams from each conference in the playoffs, meaning that half of the 32 teams go to the playoffs and no team gets a bye in the first round. The division champions would be ranked 1 to 4 and then the following best four teams in each conference would be ranked 5 to 8. No. 1 would receive no. 8, no. 2 would get no. 7, etc. and then in the next two rounds the highest ranked team would get home field advantage, just as it is at present.

The 16 game format for the regular season is well-balanced: each team plays the other three teams in its division twice, once at home and once on the road. There are another six games against teams from the same conference, two from each division, one at home and one away, meaning that a team meets each team in its conference outside of its division once every two years. Then there are four interconference games, one against a team in every division in the other conference, of which two are home games and two are on the road. And it takes four years to meet the same team again from the other conference--and eight years to have the same team from the otther conference at home.

x72
x72

Seed the playoffs, San Fran should have played a home game vs the Packers. The refs and GB almost stole one from the better team.

Aaron14
Aaron14

This isn't "watering down the playoffs" like some are saying, the playoffs were "watered down" when the league went to 4 divisions in each conference and teams with mediocre seasons like this years Packer team get in while ONLY 2 teams get in that didn't "win" their division. This way division winners would get in plus teams that finish in the 75th percentile or above (3 out of 12) that did not have the advantage of playing in a "watered down" division. 

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

NFL is going down, down, down … greedy owners and a moron for a commissioner spell doom … soccer will soon rule the USA ...

GhettoSamurai
GhettoSamurai

Go ahead, water down and already watered down game.  Everyone gets trophies and nobody is a loser.  

They need to stop trying to tinker with the game.  I for one am not excited about changes in the format and am close to just losing interest entirely.

How about, instead of trying to make MORE money as a non profit company (NFL), and give back to the fans instead.

PalmTres
PalmTres

The idea of byes in the playoffs is stupid.  If you are in you play. Either have the wild cards play each other to advance to play division champs or everybody plays.  The idea that one division champ is better than another is ludicrous.  Makes me think of when Bengals, Browns and Oilers all stunk and Steelers got 6 free wins every year.  They ended up with best record, but only b/c they played in a weak division. Either get an even number of teams in or make the wildcards win their way into a division game.One team getting a bye is moronic, are they taking lessons from Survivor (the show not the band)?


OnTheRoad
OnTheRoad

We don't want anyone to feel left out! We should expand the playoffs to a 32 team double elimination tournament! No, wait, there are some players that did not make any team, so we need to make it a 34 team double elimination tournament!! And half the games must be played in Mexico City and the other half in London!!!

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Here's a grand idea, the team with the better record deserves to play at home.

Chuckster
Chuckster

They should expand.   The NHL has 16 of 32 teams in.  NBA has 16 of 30 in.  The NFL has 12 of  32 in.  Only MLB is harder with 10 of 30 getting in and given that they play 162 games, they SHOULD have 16 teams getting in.    


On the other hand, going to 14 teams means that it is very likely that 7-9 teams get in and I am not at all in favor of a team getting in with a losing record.   Sort of like getting a participation trophy in LIttle League.  


So, in order to avoid (or try to) the losing team in scenario expand the schedule to 18 games and drop 2 of the preseason games and go to 2 divisions in each conference....East and West.  Division winners are automatically in and then the next 5 best records from there. 


YasserMuzaffar
YasserMuzaffar

Sorry, top 2 teams in each conference... not division

YasserMuzaffar
YasserMuzaffar

Forget about ticket sales, this could have serious bad affect, you would have the top 2 teams in each division playing their guts out till the last week hoping to secure that lone bye week which could lead to injuries while other teams ranked 3-7 would rest their players knowing they have clinched playoff birth and have nothing more to fight for.

You will basically be sending healthy bad teams to play against banged up good teams


Does not make any sense 

Brett
Brett

If it was enacted, it wouldn't be until 2015 because of scheduling issues? That doesn't even make sense, does it? 


David7
David7

I hope not.  The great thing about the NFL playoffs is the quality of play.   The NBA playoffs (early rounds) are a joke.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

I'll take this over an 18 game season x 1000.

jj55
jj55

No no no no no no no no no no.


No.

recherche72
recherche72

It is possible to change playoffs. Not by adding more teams but by still having divisional winners...then sort out home field by records only so we won't have another 8-7-1 Green Bay team hosting a 12-4 San Fran team. It should be San Fran number 3 seed.

riley8
riley8

Let's just allow them to all make the playoffs.  Money is more important than the integrity of the game right?

Matthew W
Matthew W

Please don't expand it like Jerry Jones wants....its the only way the Cowgirls would ever make the playoffs again.

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife

None of the fans are asking for this.  This will simply water down the playoffs and make the regular season less meaningful.  Goodell and NFL owners alone want it in order to bring in more revenue.  It is hilarious to watch the NFL talk about safety and then do everything they can to add more NFL games.

101philosopha101
101philosopha101

I don't like this.  (1) the 2nd seeded team gets screwed, and (2) it becomes more watered down, 14 teams in and 18 out, that's close to 1/2 the teams making it.  It becomes like the NBA or NHL, too many teams in.  The playoffs should count for something.

effeweall
effeweall

Look at the NBA.  Does anyone care about the NBA.  Making the playoffs should mean something.  The regular season will be meaning less if 1/2 the teams make the playoffs, and all the teams rest their players for a playoff run.   NBA reg season is meaningless, and NFL is going down the same path

parkbrav
parkbrav

I think Arizona at 10-6 was a worthy 7th seed in NFC, but Pittsburgh at 8-8 was not a worthy 7th seed in the AFC

tomabrum
tomabrum

Of course its a good idea, why would you want to reward the good teams when you can reward the bad one s as well and make more moola?  Mediocrity anyone?

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Bad idea, a good idea would be to bump a division winner if another team has a better record. AZ should have taken the puckers spot, they deserved it more. And for the puckers to get a home game out of it and to get the obvious referee help that they got??? What a joke.

rmcginnis456
rmcginnis456

@x72 blah blah blah.  Every year, someone complains about who was left out, how someone was seeded, where they played.  If the SF offensive line didn't allow so many sacks on Kaepernick, maybe they wouldn't have been in a position to have a blown call almost impact  the game.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@Aaron14They need to expand and move to 2 divisions in each conference (East and West, North and South, whatever.)   There would be 2 division winners and THEN the remaining 5 or 6 teams (regardless of division) are in based on best records.  Teams like 10-6 Arizona won't be home watching a 8-7-1 GB host a playoff game.  Additionally, the days of a 9-7 or even an 8-8 division winner ceases unless they pull off the monster of all parity moves and no one finishes better than 9-7.   I like an 18 game schedule but can and have lived with a 16 game schedule.

rmcginnis456
rmcginnis456

@Richard--Ramirez No, because then someone will complain that they had an easier schedule.  Many years, a team wins a division where all of the other teams stink.  They get an easy 6 division wins, and their final record is bloated.  Should they automatically get home field over a team that is one game worse, but plays in a division where everyone finished above .500?


It all evens out.  All of the complaining is useless, because next year, someone new complains.  Leave it the way it is.

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

You shouldn't get rewarded for playing in a weak division.

rmcginnis456
rmcginnis456

@Chuckster 12 of 32 is fine.  The NBA and NHL are widely considered jokes because the regular reason is so meaningless.  All you have to do is try just hard enough to make the dance.


18 game season is a bad idea also.  There are already way too many injuries.  What accomplishment does 18 provide that 16 doesn't?   If the NFL wants to expand the season (=TV revenue), simply add a 2nd bye week.

rmcginnis456
rmcginnis456

@recherche72 Disagree.  Simply seeding based on record alone doesn't take into account strength of schedule.  One team may have 6 easy wins because of a poor division a given year...why should they deserve a home game solely on record?

Since there is no way to fairly judge that across divisions without some complex and useless (think BCS) formula, the only fair way is to use the divisions.  Some years it will work nicely, some it won't.  Big deal.

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

@recherche72 then having divisions at all is pointless you can't just reseed the playoffs because a division winner is a game over .500 i didn't see the nfc west fans complaining when Seattle had a home game at 7-9

joe6647
joe6647

@Matthew W Cowboys are basically playing in a 16 team playoff every year during week 17....expanding the playoffs wouldnt change much for them

rmcginnis456
rmcginnis456

@101philosopha101 I like your 2nd reason but your first makes no sense.  "The 2nd seeded team gets screwed."  ??  Going forward the rules would apply to everyone, and each season is independent of prior ones.

OttawaWendy
OttawaWendy

@101philosopha101 I agree with this.  The NHL works this way, because the Stanley Cup playoffs are the greatest and hardest tournament in the world.  Playoffs go on for two months, with the potential of playing every other night if each series goes 7.  Seven game series do a much better job of ensuring that the best teams move forward, rather than the greater element of luck which exists in a one game playoff.  Since one game playoffs are all that is possible in football, it makes sense to have a more important regular season and fewer playoff teams, whereas in hockey, the regular season isn't so important because the playoffs are amazing.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@effeweall Billions care about the NBA. Check the Finals ratings.  Their reg season is actually most meaningful - top seeds usually win! 

You need to brush up on American sports, man.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@ElvisHitlerSo the NFL should have divisions but have no reward for winning one?  Where do you people come up with this stuff?

OnTheRoad
OnTheRoad

@Richard--Ramirez Not everyone plays in the NFC East! No, wait, they were not a weak division, they were a Nothing division!

AF Whigs
AF Whigs

@rmcginnis456:  I've always loved the idea of adding a 2nd bye week.  It's a long, tough season, and it would give guys a chance to recuperate, etc.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@rmcginnis456@recherche72Strength of Schedule in the NFL is a fallacy.  The BIGGEST drawback to SOS in the BCS is that, like the polls, it's all based on conjecture, voting.   


At the NFL level, supposed NE was ranked #1.... suddenly, Brady goes down 1/2 way through a game they were winning 21-0.  They end up losing the game.  Does it mean that the team that beat NE that day beat the best team ?  NO... it means the best team, lost it's best player and leader and fell apart after that.   It's ALL conjecture and very subjective.  WAY TOO MUCH emphasis is put on people's opinions of who is the best and who isn't as opposed to settling it on the field.


Bottom line is that unless everyone plays everyone and they're all completely healthy, then there is no way to determine SOS.


NCAA should adopt a 16 team playoff from the 11 conference winners and 5 at-large (for all you subjective voters out there).


The NFL should expand playoffs and teams (2 more...1 in LA and 1 in LV)

recherche72
recherche72

Pointless how? Divisional winners still make the playoffs. There was quite a bit of consternation when that 7-9 Seattle team hosted a playoff game. As divisional winners, they should have been seeded last.

Brett
Brett

@WCoastPro @effeweall Actually, according to viewership numbers on sportsmediawatch.com, the top 26 (and 46 of the top 50) sporting events on television in 2013 were NFL games. The NBA Finals Game 7 was No. 29 and Game 6 was No. 46. The other two non-NFL Games were the 2013 BCS National Championship (No. 27) and the NCAA men's national basketball championship (No. 39). Nothing comes close to rivaling the NFL.