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NFL playoffs set to add 7th team, per report

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The 2020-21 NFL playoffs will likely have seven teams making the postseason in each conference.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals’ path to getting back to the NFL playoffs could be getting easier for the 2020 season and beyond.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the new CBA being proposed would add a seventh playoff team to each conference.

If and when a new collective bargaining agreement is finalized — and there is now mounting optimism it could be done sometime in the next week — it is expected to change the NFL’s playoff structure as it is currently constituted for next season, league sources told ESPN.

Under the current proposal that is expected to take effect in the new CBA when it is done, seven teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs instead of the six that currently do. In addition, only one team from each conference will receive a first-round bye as opposed to the two that currently do, league sources said.

The changes to the NFL’s playoff format would take effect immediately for the 2020 season.

”That’s been agreed to for a long time,” one source familiar with the CBA talks said about the NFL’s new playoff structure. “There wasn’t a lot of disagreement to that issue.”

The current format has six teams making the playoffs in each conference — four division winners and two Wild Card teams. Currently, two teams in each conference get a first-round bye, but if a seventh team is added, it will lead to only the No. 1 seed getting the first-round bye, and the No. 2 team would host the No. 7 seed in the Wild Card round.

Playoff expansion has been bantered about for many years now, so it’s not a major surprise to see it’s finally coming to fruition, and it’s great news for a Bengals team that should be primed for a major bounceback in 2020.