NFL league owners voted to approve a 17-game series and expanding the postseason to 14 teams starting in the 2020 season.
This anticipated decision came during a conference call on Tuesday instead of the NFL’s Annual League Meeting, which was canceled earlier this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three-quarters of the 32 NFL owners approved the changing of the post-season format for the future.
Changes & new format
The expanded playoff format means that only the top seed will get the first-round bye in the 2020 season. Previously, only first-round byes were awarded to the top two teams in the AFC and NFC.
With the top team in each conference getting a bye, the other six teams will play each other on Wild Card Weekend. The other three division winners in each conference get a home game.
AFC and NFC Wild Card games will now feature the 2nd seed hosting the 7th seed, the 3rd seed hosting the 6th seed and the 4th seed hosting the 5th seed.
The new expanded format added one team per conference, and there is a total of six wild card slots.
NBC and CBS will broadcast the additional wild card games. The NFL Wild Card Weekend will include three games Saturday, Jan. 9 and another three games on Sunday, Jan. 10.
Why did the NFL make this change?
The move to a total of 14 teams advancing to the playoffs now means 43.7 percent of the entire league will qualify for the playoffs. This is the third-highest rate among America’s four major men’s professional sports leagues behind the NHL and the NBA. The NHL is at 51.6 percent and the NBA is at 53.3 percent. Only 10 of the 30 MLB teams currently qualify for the playoffs.
ESPN’s Louis Riddick explains this in further detail: