The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season. However, massive changes could be on the way to league’s landscape before next season.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, two playoff teams could be added in time for the 2020 season. NFL owners will reportedly meet on Thursday to possibly vote on the playoff format and an expanded regular season schedule.
Under the new playoff format, the AFC and NFC would feature seven teams instead of the traditional six that have been in place since 2002.
Yet, the biggest change will come with the bye weeks. Only the top seed in each conference will receive a bye. For example, here is how the potential new format would have looked with last season’s playoff picture:
#1 Baltimore Ravens (BYE)
#2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #7 Pittsburgh Steelers
#3 New England Patriots vs. #6 Tennessee Titans
#4 Houston Texans vs. #5 Buffalo Bills
#1 San Francisco 49ers (BYE)
#2 Green Bay Packers vs. #7 Los Angeles Rams
#3 New Orleans Saints vs. #6 Minnesota Vikings
#4 Philadelphia Eagles vs. #5 Seattle Seahawks
The league’s new proposal will reportedly only go into action this season if the owners ratify a new collective bargaining agreement for the 2021 season. The current CBA is set to expire in March 2021.
If the playoff proposal gets accepted, it could have a potentially profound impact on who reaches the Super Bowl. Since the 2013 season, the top seeds from each conference met in the Super Bowl five of the last seven seasons.
The 2018 Patriots won the Super Bowl as the two seed to end a five-year run of top seeds winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The 2019 Chiefs followed suit in February by becoming the second consecutive number two seed to win it all.
Thus, the top seeds already had plenty of help reaching the Super Bowl. If this playoff proposal passes, the road to the Super Bowl for the top seeds in the AFC and NFC could get much easier with second seeds in each conference needing to play an extra game.
The other interesting dynamic with this is scheduling. Instead of two games on Saturday and Sunday during wild card weekend, there would be three each day under the league’s new idea.
I’m guessing the start times during wild card weekend would be 1pm, 4:30pm, and 8. There really isn’t much wiggle room in regards to that.
Extra games on the docket were inevitable. NFL owners want even more revenue…player safety be damned. The league wants more games and another proposal that would lead to a 17-game regular season schedule beginning as soon as 2021 is lurking on the horizon as well.