From 12 teams, to 14 teams, to maybe even 16 teams!
The NFL’s proposal to add two additional playoff teams in the event that the regular season gets cancelled has been unanimously approved by NFL owners.
NFL owners approved a proposal to add two playoff teams - eight in each conference - if regular-season games get cancelled.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 10, 2020
This plan would add one playoff team from each conference in case the regular season isn’t able to complete a full 256-game schedule after 18 weeks. The league will attempt to extend the regular by one week—Week 18—before implementing this playoff expansion, but this becomes a new contingency for the league.
Thus far, numerous regular season games have been delayed and subsequently rescheduled, but the regular season is on track to finish on time. With COVID-19 cases surging all over the country and increasing in NFL locker rooms, this allows teams in the playoff hunt that may not get to finish their season a chance to still compete in the postseason.
During the offseason, NFL owners agreed to expand the playoffs to 14 teams from its original 12-team format. It would be quintessential 2020 for the playoffs to go straight from 12 to 16 teams and just skip the 14-team format.
The Cincinnati Bengals—who currently have a 2% chance at clinching a playoff spot per fivethirtyeight.com’s predictions—would benefit from this expansion if it ends up being implemented. Their path wouldn’t become that much easier though, as nine teams In the AFC alone have a winning record through Week 9.