NFL Considering Expanding Playoffs from 14 to 16 Teams Due to Pandemic
The NFL is considering expanding the number of playoff teams this season from 14 to 16 teams as the league continues to adapt to the ongoing pandemic.
The NFL Competition Committee met via Zoom earlier this week to discuss a contingency plan that would increase the playoff field to 16 teams if COVID-19 were to force the cancellation of games.
So far, bye weeks have allowed teams affected by the virus to adjust their schedule without facing forfeitures. However, as those are used up, a contingency plan would need to be in place.
Last month, Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said that while teams would prefer not to, they are prepared to push the Super Bowl back several weeks if need be.
“We could move the Super Bowl back as far as four weeks. Obviously, we prefer not to do that but you do have that flexibility if we run into a number of outbreaks with different teams or we have to kinda move the schedule back," Murphy said at the time.
Expanding the playoff format or adding an 18th week are become real possibilities as the NFL continues to see positive cases.
The Packers and Baltimore Ravens reported positive cases on Monday, one day after playing their respective Week 8 games the day before. The Arizona Cardinals also reported new player cases this week.
Under the new contingency plan playoff format, there would be four division winners along with four wild card teams from each the AFC and NFC.
Starting in this 2020 season, the playoff field was increased from 12 to 14 teams. This was part of the new collective bargaining agreement negotiated in March.