National Football League owners vote to approve expanded 14-team playoff format

Tanya Simon
March 31, 2020

National Football League owners have agreed to expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams beginning from this year.

During a conference call to discuss league business after the annual meetings were cancelled due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the owners also awarded one of those extra games to CBS and one to NBC.

AFC and NFC Wild Card games now will feature each conference's 2-seed hosting the 7-seed, the 3 hosting the 6 and the 4 hosting the 5.

With the NFL's 2020 schedule not affected by the coronavirus as yet, its Wild Card Weekend is set to include three games on Saturday, January 9, and three the following day.

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The new approach will now see the addition of one team from each conference in order to form six wildcard games and just one first-round bye for each conference, turning 12 playoff teams into 14. That game will also be aired on Nickelodeon in a production geared toward a younger audience.

CBS will broadcast one additional wildcard game on January 10, with a separately-produced telecast of the game being aired on Nickelodeon tailored for a younger audience. Since that point, according to, 44 of the 60 teams that would have claimed the seventh seeds had winning records, including 10 different 10-win teams. Only the 1990 Dallas Cowboys would have made the playoffs with a losing record over that span in a 14-team format. Only the top-seeded team in each conference will receive a first-round bye, whereas in the past it has been the top two seeds.

Voting on other potential 2020 changes, including proposed rule adjustments, is now expected to take place at the league meeting presently scheduled for mid-May, NFL Network's Judy Battista previously reported.

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