While Major League Baseball has drawn scrutiny for potential plans at a major postseason expansion next season, the NFL has no interest in moving beyond its new 14-team bracket.
The league approved a proposal to increase its 2020 playoff field to 16 teams, in the event COVID-19 prevents all 256 regular-season games from being played. But even that in-case-of-emergency plan encountered major dissenting voices among owners, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. This, and some opposition to the new CBA’s 14-team playoff field in league circles, points to the NFL not eyeing a future when half its teams make the playoffs annually.
Strong opposition emerged at this contingency-plan 16-team bracket, per JLC, and those dissenters made it known this will not be a precursor to future NFL postseasons. The NFL ended its 30-year run with a 12-team bracket — its most stable postseason, after eight- and 12-season periods with eight- and 10-team fields, respectively — last season and will collect additional revenue from the two extra playoff games this new 14-team playoff produces. That TV revenue will be critical ahead of 2021’s expected salary-cap reduction.
When the NFL green-lit the 12-team field for the 1990 season, the league housed 28 teams. That meant 42.9 percent of its teams made the playoffs; the 14-team format will invite 43.8 percent of the NFL’s teams to the postseason. The NFL has not been forced to cancel a game due to the coronavirus this season, but the league has changed several teams’ schedules. The first contingency plan remains for a makeshift Week 18 to serve as an if-necessary makeup window. The 16-team postseason bracket is Plan C.
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