NFL Looking To Change Schedule

Regular season and playoff expansion.

Jim Rome
February 20, 2020 - 10:20 am
Dre Greenlaw

USA Today


Adam Schefter reported yesterday that the NFL is looking to expand the regular season AND the playoffs. “Under the current CBA proposal that NFL owners are pushing for, the playoff field would be expanded to seven teams from each conference, while the regular season would be increased to 17 games per team and the preseason shortened to three games per team, sources said.”

If the CBA is approved, the 17 game season would start in 2021 at the earliest, but the new playoff format could go into effect in 2020 if the CBA is approved in time. 

Under the new playoff format, seven teams from each conference would make the playoffs and only one team, the number one seed, would get a bye in the first round. And everyone else would have to win four games to win the Super Bowl.

And of course, the question is: why? And the answer is the same as it always is: because they can. It’s the reason anyone does anything. Well, that and money, which is really driving this.

OWNERS have been jonesing for the 17th game for a long time. Of course they have. It means more money for them and it’s not the owner’s bodies that are going to get busted up in that 17th game. 

I’m guessing if Bob Kraft and Jerry Jones were out there, taking the spike before a game, playing with broken digits, and getting lit up by 250 pound trucks moving at 4.3 speed, they might feel a little different about the 17th game. 

And don’t tell me that swapping out an exhibition game for a regular season game means that players are still playing the same number of games. That’s an absurd argument. One is an exhibition game and the other is an actual NFL game with starters playing, stakes on the line, and guys getting injured. 

And they want to expand the playoffs for the same reason they want an extra regular season game – more money. Because apparently they aren’t making enough as it is.  

The NFL’s proposal isn’t nearly as idiotic as baseball’s idea for a selection show where teams get to pick who they want to play, but that’s only because that was the worst idea ever.

But just because this idea isn’t as bad as what MLB cooked up, and just because people will definitely watch more playoff games, doesn’t make it a great idea.  

Was anyone saying the current playoff format was broken? Nope. I’ve never heard anyone say that it wasn’t perfect the way that it is. You have two division champs who get byes, rewarding them for 16 games of excellence, and two division champs who host the wild card game. 

The only time you hear people complain about the current format is when wild card team has to go on the road to play a division champ with a worse record. Like the Seahawks had to do this year. That’s the only complaint you ever hear. 

You’ve never heard anyone saying, man, I wish the seventh place team had gotten in this year. Gosh, it would’ve been great to see more football from that team that could barely get above .500. 

And that’s for a reason. Yes, this year the extra team would’ve meant historic matchups like the Steelers going to Kansas City and the Rams playing at the Packers in the first weekend this season, but think about that for a minute. 

The Rams were 9-7. They lost two of their final three games. Did they look like a playoff team to you? 

The Steelers lost their last three games. They were 8-8. They didn’t even have a winning record. Did they look like a playoff team to you? Was anyone saying, “I want to see Duck Hodges in a playoff game?” 

Duck Hodges threw for 95 yards in the season finale against the Ravens. Did anyone need to see another game of that?

Sure, there might be some years where a 10-win team doesn’t get into the playoffs, but those are the breaks. If 10 wins doesn’t get you in, you should’ve won 11. Or 12. That’s how it is. And how it should be. 

So under the new model, Kansas City would not have had a bye. You’d be punishing them and rewarding the Steelers for being .500. 

The proposed new model would put an incredible premium on being the number one seed. And punish the number two seed, while rewarding the number seven seed. You finish .500 and you can still get into the playoffs? Talk about a participation trophy. 

Under the new model, if you get the number one seed, you have such an incredible advantage over everyone else because you’re the only team that gets to rest in January. The others have to slog it out for another quarter of a season. 

This isn’t just fixing something that’s not broken, it’s breaking something that’s really good in the name of making more money. And of course it will make more money. And of course everyone will watch it. But people watch Thursday Night Football and nobody says that’s good. Because it’s not. It’s generally terrible. It waters down the drink. 

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. But that’s never stopped the NFL before.

In this case more isn’t better. It’s just more lucrative. There’s a difference.  It ain’t broke, leave it alone.