Pittsburgh Steelers President and co-owner Art Rooney II walks on the field before the NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar
January 21, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) Don't look at NFL expansion of the playoffs as a slam dunk.

Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney said Wednesday he doesn't expect the league to expand the playoffs by two teams in 2015.

Adding another wild-card team in each conference has been discussed for several years and certainly will be a hot topic at the owners' meetings in March. But Rooney cast doubt on it happening.

''I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea of adding a playoff team or adding a team from each conference,'' Rooney said. ''But my view on that depends a lot on what goes with it. Schedule is certainly a factor: When would this game be played? The fact that we would now wind up with likely only having one team in each conference with a bye is not a great outcome.

''There are things like that I think we would have to look at and think through before a decision is made on this, and that may be one reason why this is probably not a decision that gets made this year.''

Commissioner Roger Goodell has supported two more wild-card teams, bringing the playoff field from 12 to 14. So do many owners, although the league previously has delayed a vote on expanding the playoffs.

But because the players' union vehemently opposes a lengthening of the regular season to 17 or 18 games, the only realistic option for the NFL to provide more games is by adding playoff teams.

Had there been 14 playoff teams this season, a 9-7 record would have earned the final spot in the AFC - Houston, Kansas City, Buffalo and San Diego all had that record - while Philadelphia would have gotten in at 10-6 in the NFC.

The league's TV partners wouldn't mind the idea of more playoff games, and there's the prospect of playing both of the additional wild cards in prime time. The new setup would mean one first-round playoff bye in each conference, with six wild-card round games instead of the current four.

In May, Goodell painted a positive scenario for expanding the playoffs.

''I do believe it will be approved for the 2015 season,'' Goodell said. ''We want to see how it will impact in a positive way from a competitive standpoint. Will it create more excitement, more races toward the end of the season? Who will ultimately qualify for the playoffs?''

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