Feb 20, 2020 - Sports

NFL playoffs could expand to 14 teams under new labor agreement

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The NFL and its players' union have informally agreed to restructure the postseason and add a seventh team from each conference for a total of 14, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Why it matters: If finalized as part of the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement, this format change would mark the first playoff expansion since 1990, when the league went from 10 teams to 12.

The structure: The proposal would eliminate the first-round bye for the No. 2 seeds, so the playoff structure would look like this: six wild-card games (up from four), four divisional-round games, two conference championships and the Super Bowl.

Looking back: Here are the teams from the last 10 years that missed the postseason as the No. 7 seed but would have made the playoffs under the proposed format.

  • 2019: Steelers (8-8) and Rams (9-7)
  • 2018: Steelers (9-6-1) and Vikings (8-7-1)
  • 2017: Ravens (9-7) and Lions (9-7)
  • 2016: Titans (9-7) and Buccaneers (9-7)
  • 2015: Jets (10-6) and Falcons (8-8)
  • 2014: Texans (9-7) and Eagles (10-6)
  • 2013: Steelers (8-8) and Cardinals (10-6)
  • 2012: Steelers (8-8) and Bears (10-6)
  • 2011: Titans (9-7) and Bears (8-8)
  • 2010: Chargers (9-7) and Giants (10-6)

The big takeaways: With a 14-team field, the Steelers would have made the playoffs with an 8-8 record three times last decade, and the last two Super Bowl champs (Chiefs and Patriots, both No. 2 seeds) would have had to play an additional game.

  • Six wild-card games (three Saturday, three Sunday) would be wild, with the NFL dominating an entire weekend like college basketball does during March Madness — and college football and the NFL combine to do throughout the fall.

What to watch: The current CBA expires after the 2020 season, which officially begins March 18. If a new agreement is reached before then, this expansion could go into effect immediately.

Go deeper: Increased viewership ups the stakes for the NFL's broadcast rights

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NFL players' union approves new labor agreement with 17-game season

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After months of negotiations, a narrow majority of players voted to approve a new 10-year labor deal that will shape the NFL over the next decade.

Why it matters: The new collective bargaining agreement will allow the NFL to expand its regular season from 16 to 17 games as early as 2021 and expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams starting this season.

Go deeperArrowMar 16, 2020 - Sports

NFL will hold draft as scheduled but cancel public events due to coronavirus

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL announced Monday that it will hold its 2020 draft next month as scheduled, but will cancel the planned public events in Las Vegas due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: The league said the selection process will still be televised, adding that it is exploring "innovative options" for conducting the draft in such a climate.

Go deeperArrowMar 16, 2020 - Sports

NFL players' union elects new president amid CBA disarray

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Browns center J.C. Tretter was elected as the new president of the NFL Players Association during union meetings Tuesday, beating out Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho and Giants safety Michael Thomas.

What to watch: The election comes at a turbulent time for the NFLPA, which has plunged into a state of disarray in recent weeks thanks to the public disagreement over the proposed CBA, which includes a 17-game schedule starting in 2021 at the earliest.

Go deeperArrowMar 11, 2020 - Sports