As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was passed just a couple weeks ago, each of the NFL's 32 clubs voted to approve the expansion of the playoff system to 14 teams for the coming 2020 season. Yep, we're getting more postseason football, immediately.
"Players and clubs both recognized that nothing energizes fans like the chance to see their team qualify for the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl," according to a league memo.
Here's how it works. Following the regular 16-game season (the 17th game isn't on the table until 2020), seven teams from both the AFC and NFC will now qualify under the new format. And while seven is an odd number for each conference, it will be evened out with the No. 1 seed given a bye during the Wild Card round of the playoffs. From there, the other division champions will be seeded according to record along with the rest of the qualifying teams. The No. 2 seed will host the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed will host No. 6 and No. 4 will host No. 5. Wild Card Weekend will consist of all six games, with three airing on Saturday, January 9 and the remaining three on Sunday, January 10.
CBS will broadcast an additional Wild Card game on Sunday, which will be available via livestream as well as on a separately produced telecast aimed at younger audiences on Nickelodeon. Here's to hoping the losing team, or at least some its players, are subject to getting slimed.
This marks the first time the league has expanded its playoff format since the 1990 season, when the number of qualifying teams increased from 10 to 12. The NFL is following suit of other major sports leagues that have a more robust postseason. In the NBA, 16 teams qualify and play multiple-game series. As do Major League Baseball clubs, where 14 of the 30 teams play extra baseball.