Report: NFL Playoff Format Expected to Change for 2020 Season

The playoff field would expand to seven teams from each conference, 14 overall 

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Jimmy Garoppolo (10) congratulates Patrick Mahomes (15) after Super Bowl LIV. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty)
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By Evan Bleier / February 20, 2020 8:47 am

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL and the NFLPA are close to reaching an agreement that would change the league’s playoff format for the upcoming season.

Expected to be agreed upon within the next week, the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement would expand the NFL’s playoff field to include seven teams from each conference, 14 overall.

That would mean only one team from each conference would receive a bye in the first round of the playoffs and there would be six games on wild-card weekend instead of four.

“That’s been agreed to for a long time,” a source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN. “There wasn’t a lot of disagreement to that issue. There still are issues being negotiated, but I’d be very surprised if there’s not a new CBA for the new league year.”

Though the changes would not take effect in 2020, the new CBA is also expected to lengthen the NFL’s regular season to 17 games and eliminate one of the four preseason games teams in the league currently play.

The new CBA doesn’t have to be agreed upon until just before the start of the 2021 season for a work stoppage to be avoided. But, owners would like to have an agreement in place prior to the start of the upcoming 2020 league year (March 18), according to USA Today.

“Not only would that ensure the avoidance of a work stoppage, but it also gives the NFL more leverage to negotiate more lucrative broadcast deals, which translates into increased revenue for all parties involved,” the publication writes. “The goal of NFLPA leadership is to significantly improve working conditions and get the most out of a new deal to benefit the most players. Based on how things are shaping up, it appears that both sides have a real chance of achieving both goals.”

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