In a move many believed was already official with the passing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL announced the 2020 postseason will expand from 12 to 14 teams.
.@NFL clubs today approved the expansion of the postseason, from 12 to 14 teams, beginning with the 2020 season: https://t.co/V1QecMOMTJ— NFL345 (@NFL345) March 31, 2020
The expanded format will add one more Wildcard team in each conference. The seventh seed will now be paired with the number two seed, giving two extra games in Wildcard weekend. As part of the announcement, the NFL stated there will be three games on Saturday, January 9, and three games on Sunday, January 10.
NFL announces that the wild-card games for the 2020 season will consist of a tripleheader on Saturday and Sunday of the opening postseason weekend.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 31, 2020
NFL announces that NBC will televise the Sunday night game of wild-card weekend, and that it will be shown on NBC, Telemundo, and the new @peacockTV streaming service.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 31, 2020
The NFL announced the additional games will be aired on CBS and NBC. Additionally, Nickelodeon will have a separate live telecast aimed at younger viewers.
With the new format, earning the top stop in the conference will now be more important than ever as they will be the only team receiving a bye. Since the NFL expanded to 12 playoff teams in 1990, all teams playing on Wildcard weekend were guaranteed to go on the road in the Divisional round. In the new format, one team per conference will host a playoff game both weekends unless all three road teams are victorious.
Had this playoff format been introduced earlier, the Steelers would have benefited greatly. In fact, the last four seasons the Steelers failed to make the playoffs they would have qualified as the seventh seed. According to NFL.com‘s Kevin Patra, only the 1990 Dallas Cowboys would have made the playoffs with a losing record if the league would have expanded to 14 teams instead of 12.
While some fans might be hesitant of another team making the playoffs at first, I’m sure after several seasons it will become just an afterthought. Personally, I’m looking forward to three straight games on back-to-back days this January.
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