NFL owners agreed on Tuesday to expand the league's playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams, beginning with the 2020 season.
The NFL owners have confirmed, via a vote on today’s teleconference, that there will be expanded playoffs after the 2020 season, source said. Expected and now official. One more team per conference.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 31, 2020
The idea of an expanded playoff was first addressed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that owners and the NFL Players Association agreed on earlier this month, according to the league's announcement.
The new format means seven teams from each conference will make the playoffs, giving each the AFC and NFC one more representative in the league's postseason. Previously, only six teams from each conference made the playoffs.
Previously, each conference's top two seeds received a bye week for the first round of the playoffs. Under the new format, only the No. 1 seed from the NFC and AFC will have a bye. Wild Card weekend will now consist of three games on each day, with the No. 2 seed hosting the No. 7 seed, No. 3 seed hosting the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed hosting the No. 5 seed.
The design of the new format is to reward teams that have nine, 10, or even 11 win seasons, but failed to earn one of the conference's wild-card berths in the past. Had this format change been adopted in 1990, less than 2 percent of teams would have made the playoffs with a losing record.
The change in playoff format is one of two major shifts that will happen in the NFL over the next two years, as the league will begin playing a 17-game season in 2021.
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