Expanded NFL Postseason Not Off Table For '14, As Officials Are Showing "Urgency"
There is a "real urgency" behind the scenes at the NFL to cut the preseason down to three games per team and introduce an "expanded playoff field from 12 to 14 teams which would allow for revenue offset,” according to sources cited by ESPN's Chris Mortensen. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated in an NFL.com interview last week that an altered schedule likely would not happen in '14. However, sources said that it is possible if the NFL "can get the owners’ votes, the preseason scheduling formula, sponsorship agreements, a few stadium leases resolved." The league's Competition Committee has "recommended the three-game preseason model as the minimum necessary for player evaluation and development" (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 9/29). SI.com’s Chris Burke noted a 14-team playoff with seven teams per conference “likely would limit first-round byes to just the top qualifying team.” Six teams from both the AFC and NFC “would compete in the current ‘wild-card round,’ giving the NFL an extra game that weekend.” The divisional round “would maintain its current format.” Another option “could be to adopt MLB’s play-in wild-card format and have the two lowest-seeded teams from each conference meet, with the winners rounding out a 12-team bracket that mirrors the current setup.” Burke wrote any additional playoff games “would be cash cows” for the NFL (SI.com, 9/29). CBSSPORTS.com’s John Breech noted an expanded playoff field likely would not “dilute the NFL postseason.” Among the 20 teams “that would have made the playoffs under the expanded field” over the last 10 seasons, there “would have been one 11-5 team, four 10-6 teams, 11 9-7 teams and four 8-8 teams” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/29).