Rooney cites scheduling as potential impediment to playoff expansion
The many proposed rule and bylaw changes to be considered next week by NFL owners don’t include a potential expansion of the postseason from 12 to 14 teams. Unofficially, the NFL is waiting to tie to larger postseason pool of games to the next sale of the Thursday Night Football package. Officially, the NFL is concerned about how to properly schedule the two extra wild-card games.
“I think we’ve always said [playoff expansion] is something that’s worth considering,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told the team’s official website. “But the details of it, when would the game get scheduled? Monday night is one of the possibilities, which I don’t think is a great alternative. The idea is OK, it’s just that when you get down to exactly how does it work, it gets a little complicated.”
It gets complicated because adding a game on Monday night could require a team to play in the divisional round on only five days later. Which apparently is a problem even though the NFL has no qualms about requiring every team to play at least one regular-season game only four days after a Sunday game.
“That’s not ideal for the league to have a team that’s going to play on Monday night and then have to come back the next week and play on a short week, where even on a Saturday is a possibility,” Rooney said. “That’s a complication that, there again, we need to figure it out. The [new expanded] college playoff piece of it is sort of in the mix there in terms of when does that game get played? It’s part of the discussion.”
It’s odd that the NFL seems intent on putting one of the extra games on Monday night, especially since the NFL doesn’t currently play a Monday night game in Week 17. The easiest change to the schedule would be the creation of a Saturday and Sunday tripleheader, with kickoff times each day matching the kickoff times of the Thanksgiving trio of games.
A Friday night playoff game also is possible. Though it would entail a short week, both teams would be playing only five days after their final regular-season game, avoiding any potential competitive disadvantage.
Regardless, the NFL stands to make many more millions by making the No. 2 seed in each conference play the No. 7 seed. It’s believed to be an inevitability, once it can be linked to the many more millions that will be made once the Thursday night games are placed out for bidding on a multi-year deal.