National Football League expands playoff field beginning in 2020

Ruben Hill
March 31, 2020

It means that 43.7 percent of National Football League teams will make the playoffs.

The NFL's owners have voted to expand the playoffs to include 14 teams and will add postseason games on Nickelodeon and NBCUniversal's new streamer Peacock.

The measure required a 3/4 majority vote to pass, meaning at least 24 of the 32 league owners had to approve.

Owners arrived at the decision in Tuesday's conference call, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, which served as an alternative to the Annual League Meeting following its cancellation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first round moving forward, the second-seeded team will host the seventh seed, No. 3 hosts No. 6, and No. 4 hosts No. 5.

Only the teams with the best record in the AFC and NFC will get a bye under the new format; the top two teams skipped wild-card weekend in the past.

While the broadcast rights in the USA for the additional wild card games will be split between NBC and CBS, it's been confirmed that Nickelodeon will air "a separately produced telecast" tailored for a younger audience. CBS will broadcast one of the new games, scheduled for a 4:40 p.m. ET kickoff on January 10, and it will be streamed on CBS All Access.

The increased format, which adds one Wildcard team per conference, brings the total number of Wildcards to six.

As part of its newly accepted collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA, the league is expanding its playoff field from 12 to 14 teams in 2020, which means there will be two additional games in the wild-card round of the postseason.

The expansion also features just one playoff bye, for the No. 1 seeds in the AFC and NFC.

Voting on other potential 2020 changes, including proposed rule adjustments, is now expected to take place at the league meeting presently scheduled for mid-May, NFL Network's Judy Battista previously reported.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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