On Tuesday, the NFL officially voted to expand the playoff structure to include 14 teams, according to Ian Rapoport.
Here’s the official release from the NFL outlining the changes to the playoff format moving forward:
“NFL clubs voted today to expand the postseason by two teams beginning with the 2020
“Expanding the NFL postseason was addressed in the new NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining
Agreement. 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.
“Today’s vote during a league meeting held remotely follows the recommendation of the Competition Committee, Management Council Executive Committee and Media Committee on increasing the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14.
“Two additional Wild Card teams – one each in the American and National Football Conferences – will qualify for the playoffs. The No. 1 seed in each conference will receive a bye in the Wild Card round. The remaining division champions in each conference with the best records will be seeded 2, 3, and 4, followed by the next three teams per conference with the best records seeded 5, 6, and 7.
“AFC and NFC Wild Card games will feature the 2 seed hosting the 7 seed, the 3 seed hosting the 6 seed and the 4 seed hosting the 5 seed.
“Wild Card Weekend for the 2020 season will consist of three games on Saturday, January 9, and three games on Sunday, January 10, 2021.
“CBS will broadcast one additional Wild Card game on January 10 with kickoff at approximately 4:40 p.m. ET. The game will also be available via a livestream on CBS All Access. Additionally, as part of CBS’ coverage, a separately produced telecast of the game will air on Nickelodeon, tailored for a younger audience.
“NBC, its new streaming service Peacock, as well as Telemundo will all broadcast an additional Wild Card game on January 10 with kickoff at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET.
“The NFL last expanded the playoffs for the 1990 season, increasing from 10 to 12 the number of teams to qualify for the postseason. Since 1990, at least four new teams have qualified for the playoffs that missed the postseason the year before – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons.”
The new CBA agreement allows the NFL to expand the playoffs for the 2020 season. Although, some in the NFL felt owners were able to make this change even without the approval of the NFLPA.
The idea of adding a seventh team in the AFC and NFC playoffs was first floated a few years ago, as another way to expand TV revenue, so this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
The new agreement will pay players on the teams that earn a first-round bye for that weekend, which was not the case under the old CBA.