NFL Set To Expand Playoff Field To 14 Teams Under New CBA
10-Year Agreement Set To Expire
As the 10-year agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association is set to expire, both parties are working on a new deal. With it, owners are proposing significant changes to both the regular-season schedule and the postseason format.
NFL ownership is meeting in New York City Thursday to explore negotiations with the NFLPA before the owners’ proposal is discussed by the players on a conference call scheduled for Friday.
From 12 to 14 Teams
According to reports, both sides are already in agreement over increasing the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams. This change, which could go into effect as early as next season if the new CBA is ratified, would add one more postseason team in each conference.
Under the proposed format, only the top seed in each conference would receive a bye. That would leave the other 12 teams to play on Wild Card weekend, which would include three games each on Saturday and Sunday.
The proposed change to the regular-season schedule, which wouldn’t go into effect until the 2021 season at the earliest, would remove one preseason game and add one regular-season game for every team.
Under the new CBA proposal, the players’ revenue share could increase to as much as 48.5% if they agree to the 17-game season.
New Playoff Format Gives Top Seed Extra Advantage
Under the proposed playoff changes, the top seed in either conference would now receive the added advantage of being the only team to be able to rest through the first round of the playoffs.
Right now, the only edge the first seed has over the second seed is home-field advantage, should those two teams meet in the conference championship game.
The advantages still received by the second seed is why the odds of winning the Super Bowl swung so drastically for both the Chiefs and Patriots after New England lost their grip on the second seed in the AFC with their Week 17 loss to Miami.
The new postseason format would mean only the top seed in either conference would need two wins to reach the Super Bowl, while all other playoff teams would need three wins to reach the Super Bowl.
How NFL Could Grow With Extra Regular-Season Game
The NFL is the biggest sport in the country, but that doesn’t mean its influence can’t grow even larger. A 17th regular-season game could provide the perfect avenue to do so.
At this point, a 17th game poses some logistical challenges. For example, all teams currently play eight home games and eight road games. Would a 17th game mean that some teams now have to play an extra away game while others get an extra home game?
Possible Solutions To Logistical Challenges
However, the NFL has the chance to avoid those kinds of issues while extending its reach by doing one of two things.
The league could either have every team play a London game every season, or it could have every team participate in a neutral site game every year.
Either scenario would mean that all teams play eight home games, eight road games, and one neutral site game, meaning the playing field remains level. Meanwhile, the NFL would gain a better grip on new fanbases that currently see little NFL football.