According to a report Thursday by The Washington Post’s Mark Maske, who received his information from a league source, the NFL is strongly considering expanding its postseason field to 14 teams by 2015. Owners might even vote on the proposal next month during the league’s annual meetings in Orlando, FL.
The current field has 12, six each from the NFC and AFC. The bump would grow the number of postseason participants from 37 percent of the clubs to 43 percent.
“I think there’s a lot of momentum for it,” the source told Maske. “I don’t know for sure if the votes are there yet or not, but there is momentum. A lot of people seem to be in favor of it.”
A lot of people, subscribers to the “less is more” idea, won’t be. They would argue that diluting the playoff field is dumb on the face of it. But they’ll lose that argument on monetary grounds: Wild card weekend is a major cash cow. An average of 34.7 million people watched each of the most recent opening-round games, with the 49ers and Packers attracting more than 47 million.
Adding two more teams to would bring the total games to six. The league is exploring having two on Saturday, three on Sunday and one in prime time on Monday night. The No. 1 seed would draw the lone bye, and No. 2 plays No. 7, 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5.
Had 14 teams made the 2013-14 playoffs, Pittsburgh would have qualified for the AFC field and Arizona, which scored a late-season victory over the Seahawks at CenturyLink, for the NFC field.
The Steelers would have visited New England in one wild card game (there’s a ratings bonanza) while the Cardinals would have played at Carolina. The Patriots and Panthers had first-round byes last season, but would not have gotten them with 14 teams in the field.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who favors an 18-game schedule, is said to endorse a 14-team playoff. Of course, 14 won’t be the end of it. A few years from now, the postseason will include 16 teams, or 50 percent of the league’s roster. Given the money involved, it’s inevitable.