A longstanding rumor is now official: The NFL will extend its postseason to include 14 teams.
While the timing is a bit peculiar considering the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, ESPN reports that the new format will go into effect this upcoming season and include two major changes:
• Each conference will now include three wild-card teams instead of two.
• The No. 2 seed in each conference will host the new No. 7 seed in the wild-card round, so only No. 1 seeds will have first-round byes.
With the new format in place, coaches will enjoy a bit more job security thanks to increased odds of reaching the playoffs, while owners will be preoccupied with making it rain additional revenue—an estimated nine-figure increase annually.
There’s also plans to broadcast at least one playoff game on Nickelodeon, according to ESPN:
Wild-card weekend will feature back-to-back tripleheaders on Jan. 9 and 10, according to the league. CBS will broadcast one of the new games, scheduled for a 4:40 p.m. ET kickoff on Jan. 10, and it will be streamed on CBS All Access. That game also will be aired on Nickelodeon in a production geared toward a younger audience.
NBC, its new streaming service Peacock and Spanish-language Telemundo will broadcast the other new game on Jan. 10 at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET.
The last time the NFL expanded the playoffs was when it jumped from 10 teams to 12 in 1990, so the new rules going into effect will be a game-changer. The last team to make it to the Super Bowl without a bye was the 2012 Ravens and in the last seven Super Bowls, every team had earned a bye. And while the argument could be made that the playoffs will now feature a weaker field, it could also include 9- or 10-win teams that otherwise wouldn’t have made it in—like the 2008 Patriots, who missed the postseason despite winning 11 games.
Players can also expect a noticeable raise in salaries, between an increased salary cap and easier-to-attain playoff bonuses, which will range from $33,000 to $30,000 per player.
In all, it’s gonna be an adjustment for teams and fans alike, but as long as the end result translates to competitive football it sounds like a win for everyone.
Well, except Bengals fans.