NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during the league's fall meetings that expanding the playoff field is a priority. Though he set 2015 as the earliest date for implementing those changes, it appears that Goodell has kept the issue on the front burner.
SI's Andrew Perloff tweeted Monday, via Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show, that "the NFL will add a wild card team in both conferences."
Should that occur, 14 of the league's 32 teams would qualify for the postseason -- seven in each conference. Goodell also said during his October remarks that such a change would lead to three games per conference on wild-card weekend (currently, there are two), presumably with the No. 1 overall seeds receiving byes. From there, No. 2 would host No. 7, No. 3 would host No. 6, and No. 4 would host No. 5; the divisional round then would pare down to four teams per conference, as it does now.
However, a league spokesman, via SI's Richard Deitsch, said that "there's been no such decision.
"It would require a vote of the clubs and it has not yet been taken up with them. If it’s taken up this year, it would happen at the annual meeting in March. The agenda for the meeting has not been formulated."
That's less a denial than a postponement of the discussion. Goodell pointed out that the competition committee would handle the change at those annual meetings. Last year, the committee shot down a similar plan.
But expect Goodell to try again.
"If expanding the postseason would allow other teams to get into the dance, and they have the potential of going on and winning the Super Bowl, that's a good thing for fans, that a good thing competitively," he said at the fall meetings.
According to NFL.com, a seven-team-per-conference format would not be enacted until at least 2015 due to scheduling issues. Had that format been in place this season, Pittsburgh and Arizona would have qualified for the playoffs in the AFC and NFC, respectively. The Steelers finished with an 8-8 record and were nipped at the wire by San Diego; the Cardinals missed out on the postseason despite finishing 10-6 -- a record that topped NFC North champion Green Bay's 8-7-1 mark and matched that of 10-6 NFC East champ Philadelphia.