The current NFL season is full of surprises and roadblocks. Now, it might end with a 16 team playoff. If this happens, it will be the first time since 1982 that 16 teams participate. That year, the playoffs were called “The Super Bowl Tournament”, and Washington won it all.
A 16 team playoff is half of the NFL’s teams. This really opens things up for teams who might have never had a chance. But could also create new challenges for the teams that were already going.
Here’s how this playoff system would work as explained by Adams Schefter.
There are two things to note in that explanation, seeding and no buy weeks.
Seeding and No Byes
Now that an extra team for each conference is being added, seeding plays out a little differently. In this system, being the number one seed does not have the same benefit as before.
There will be no buys in this system which means that the number one seed in each conference will play the same amount of games as everyone else. They will face the number eight seed, while two faces seven and so on. From that point, the playoffs would play out as normal.
The eight teams left after the first round will face off to determine who goes to the semifinals for each conference. From the four conference championship contenders, two winners from each conference will face off in the Super Bowl.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 3, 2020
Essentially this adds two more teams and forces the one seed to play an extra game. This creates some very interesting possibilities.
With another slot open, teams that are struggling such as the Patriots might still make the cut. Sometimes it takes a team half of its season to really get going. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks made the postseason with a record of 7-9.
Teams can get desperate and push to just make the cut. Most of the time that number one seed can sit them out but in this system, they would have to face a team that clawed their way into that eighth spot. Desperate teams on a hot streak have won those upset games before.
@JavierVeg_ @MattBarr_ @akashanav
Can you imagine this scenario playing out. Nfl approves a 16 team playoff. Niner some how squeak in as the 8 seed. Get back all the players on IR that are eligible to return. Aint nobody gonna wanna see that team in Rd1
— Angelo Fornataro (@AFornataroXV) November 3, 2020
If anything, this puts more pressure on the number one seed to be ready for a game against an eighth seed and not underestimate them. Especially if that eight seed is a team that has been held back by key injuries, but is getting their stars back by playoff time.
Regardless of the decision made by the NFL, with a 14 team system already happening, the race opened up a little. With 16 teams being a possibility, anything could happen.