NBC Sports (Chicago)
February 19, 2020
According to NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the NFL is working towards finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement—possibly as soon as next week—that could include big-time changes for the NFL postseason format.
As currently constructed, the NFL postseason features six teams, four division winners and two wild card teams. The wild card teams play on Wild Card Weekend while the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds receive a first-round bye. Under the possible new system, which Schefter reported could take place as soon as next season, there will be seven teams making the playoffs from each conference rather than six and there will only be a single first round bye given to the top teams in each conference rather than two byes per conference.
Players on a team receiving a first round bye would receive postseason pay for that week, something that is also different from the previous CBA and certainly got players behind the changes.
The change of the overall NFL playoff field to 14 teams would mean instead six wild card round games rather than the current total of four.
Under the current transformational CBA proposal that NFL owners are pushing for, there would be more drama at the end of the regular season…and six – six! – games on wild-card weekend. Imagine three wild-card games on Saturday, then three more Sunday.
If the new, proposed playoff format was in effect last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams would’ve been the last two teams in, while the Bears would’ve been a mere one game back of a postseason berth.
While the playoff changes would take place swiftly, there are additional items that could be added to take place at a later date, including a 17-game regular season. According to Schefter’s report, there was little-to-no disagreement among NFL folks when it came to expanding the postseason and seeing how last season went for the Bears, there certainly won’t be many complaints about the playoff field expanding in Chicago either.