Report: Playoff expansion "when, not if"

Report: Playoff expansion "when, not if"
March 17, 2014, 1:45 pm
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It looks like expanded playoffs are coming to the NFL.

Peter King said on his MMQB.com website that the NFL would bring up adding one team to the playoff field in each conference at the annual league meetings staring in six days. “I’m hearing it’s a matter of when, not if” it will happen, said King.

“When” could be as soon as the 2015 season.

So we would have 14 playoff teams instead of 12 with only the top-seeded team in each conference getting a bye. The second seed in each conference would play No. 7 and it would be No. 3 vs. No. 7 and No. 4 vs. No. 5. That opening weekend of the playoffs, with six games instead of four, would spill into Monday night.

Some are concerned that adding teams will dilute the playoffs and, by definition, they will be right. The 16-game regular season will be devalued by having three teams that didn’t win their divisions get to play in the postseason and not just two. But the NFL will still have fewer than half of its teams in the playoffs, a percentage breached by both the NBA and NHL (53.8 percent each).

To be sure, the additional wild card slot would let some good teams who missed the playoffs to get in. The Cardinals finished 10-6 last year and they missed out.

At the same time, it would give a back door to mediocre teams to get in. Again, you have to look back no further than last year to find that the Steelers, who started 0-4 and finished 8-8, would have grabbed the AFC’s third wild card slot.

The Redskins may benefit from the expanded playoffs at some point but it would not have helped them in the past. Since the NFL went to its current division and playoff format in 2002, they have not finished in a spot where the additional wild card spot would have gotten them into the postseason.