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New CBA Could Expand Playoffs to 14 Teams in 2020; 17 games in 2021

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NFL: JAN 19 NFC Championship - Packers at 49ers Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oh, NFL. A 32-team league where you play 16 regular-season games, and 12 teams make the playoffs. What a noble concept. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the new CBA proposal change everything. The playoffs would expand to 14 teams, and that could go into place as soon as this upcoming season. The other wrinkle is each conference would only have one team that would get a first-round bye. Nothing would have changed for the 2019 San Francisco 49ers, but the seventh seed would have been the Los Angeles Rams. Going back five seasons, these would have been the No. 7 seeds in each conference:

2019: PIT (8-8), LAR (9-7)

2018: PIT (9-6-1), MIN (8-7-1)

2017: BAL (9-7), DET (9-7)

2016: TEN (9-7), TB (9-7)

2015: NYJ (10-6), ATL (8-8)

Duck Hodges would have started a playoff game. That alone should be the reason to reject this proposal. This does put more emphasis on getting that No. 1 seed. Since 2013, each Super Bowl had either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. So while there will be extra teams, if this is passed, that doesn’t mean each game will be meaningful.

I’m not too fond of the idea of almost half of the league making the playoffs. Yes, the NBA and the NHL does it. No, it would help if you didn’t pander to mediocre teams. Never reward mediocrity. There may be a game or two with upsets, but I don’t see the benefit other than the real reason this would be passed: money. More games, more TV deals, more money in the owners’ pockets. Another day at the office in the NFL.

17 game schedule

Schefter also said the players are working on signing off on a deal that adds one game to the regular-season schedule. Many questions are surrounding the reason for this— outside of money— but how does a 17 game season work in terms of competitive balance? Half the league is going to get one more home game than everyone else. That matters. It’s. The last games of the season are usually all divisional games leading into the playoffs; you don’t think the road team playing their ninth road game is going to complain? Imagine Seahawks fans. No, thank you.

So while we want more transparency in officiating and instant replay, the NFL figured it’s best to add playoff teams and regular-season games. Nothing like giving the consumer what they want. Also, this heightens the risk of players getting injured. Not that the league cares about this, but an extra game against a non-divisional or even conference opponent isn’t helping anyone. No deals have been signed yet, but Schefter’s article made it seem like it was inevitable.