Like it or not, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before the NFL expands the number of teams that make the playoffs. In fact, it could probably happen as soon as 2015.
According to a Thursday report by Mark Maske of the Washington Post, a person “familiar with the deliberations” on playoff expansion has told him there’s currently a “lot of momentum” to make a move to 14 teams that will make the playoffs instead of 12.
“I think there’s a lot of momentum for it,” the source told Maske. “I don’t know for sure if the votes are there yet [among the owners] or not. But there is momentum. A lot of people seem in favor of it.”
Should the playoffs ultimately expand, Maske says that one additional team from each conference would make the playoffs and that instead of two teams having a first round bye, only the top seed in each conference would land the bye. This new format would result in six games during the first week of the playoffs instead of the four that we have been accustomed to during the Wild Card Round.
In addition to more games, having two additional teams make the playoffs could also result in one of the six first-round games being played on Monday night in addition to two on Saturday and three on Sunday. By doing this, league of course would benefit by creating more revenue.
Maske reports the owners will at the very least “consider” the playoff expansion a month from now at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando and it’s even possible it could be brought to vote at that time.
Had the new format been in place this past season, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals presumably would have made the playoffs. Being as the Denver Broncos would have had the bye week in the AFC, the Steelers presumably would have had to play the New England Patriots, who they had lost to during the regular season 55-31. That rematch of course would have taken place in Foxboro.