Though expanded NFL playoffs were once widely expected to be implemented for the 2015 season, that no longer seems likely, reports Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
Expanding the postseason has been a popular topic over recent seasons, especially as an alternative to adding more regular-season or preseason games to the calendar. But with the NFL only in the second year of its broadcast arrangement with CBS for Thursday night games, the Post reports playoff expansion for the upcoming season has lost support from team owners.
Last month, the NFL announced that Thursday Night Football would return to CBS and the NFL Network next season. CBS became the first broadcast network to air Thursday night games this past season after striking a deal reportedly worth $250 million.
"I'd say at this point it's 50-50 at best," said one person familiar with the deliberations by the league and the rule-making NFL competition committee Wednesday. "I think it's gonna happen eventually, just maybe not for next season. It seems to have lost momentum. It still could be revived for the March [owners'] meeting. But at the moment it doesn't look good for next season."
The current expansion proposal would put seven teams from each conference into the playoffs instead of the current six. Only one team in each conference would receive a first-round bye (instead of two), meaning the league would have six opening-round postseason games instead of the current four.
At his pre-Super Bowl press conference last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also sounded less optimistic about the expanded playoffs proposal being implemented for 2015. Any prospective rule change in the NFL is subject to approval of at least 24 of the league's 32 owners.
"The possibility of expanding the playoffs has been a topic over the last couple of years," Goodell told reporters. "There are positives to it, but there are concerns as well, among them being the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January."
- Mike Fiammetta