NFL Expands Playoff Field, Sets Schedule Release

John McMullen

Things just got a bit easier for the Eagles to expand their postseason run to four consecutive seasons.

As expected the NFL expanded its playoff field Tuesday with the owners, via conference call, voting to approve a proposal to add a wild-card team in each conference, bringing the total number of playoff teams on each side of the bracket to seven.

The league also annoncd that its schedule for all 32 teams will be released no later than May 9. The NFL said that the later-than-usual release date of its shedule was not related to outbreak of COVID-19.

The Eagles opponents are already known, but the dates and times are not.

They will host their three NFC East foes as well as the Rams, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals and Saints.

Of course, the Saints trip to Lincoln Financial Field will mark the return of former safety Malcolm Jenkins.

In addition to their three NFC East games, the Eagles will travel to the 49ers, Packers, Steelers, Browns, and Cardinals.

There is a chance that the Eagles-Cardinals game could be played in Mexico.

As for the increase in the number of. playoff teams, the back end of one additional team means the front end also changes with the No. 1 seed even more meaningful as the only team in each conference to get a first-round bye.

This marks the first expansion of the NFL playoff field since 1990.

Wild-Card Weekend games will now feature the second seed, which formerly would have gotten a first-round bye, hosting the No. 7 seed, The third seed will host the six seed and No. 4 will play ho hosting No. 5.

As for the setup, the weekend will consist of three games on Saturday, January 9, and three games on Sunday, January 10, 2021, the league said. That, of course, is pending any potential push back of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move to 14 playoff teams means the NFL is getting perilously close to 50 percent of its teams qualifying for the postseason at 43.7 percent. That compares to 33.3 percent in MLB, 51.6 in the NHL and 53.3 in the NBA. ​

The league was sure to point out that since the last postseason tweak in 1990, 44 of the 60 teams that would have claimed the seventh seeds had winning records, including 10 10-win teams. Conversely, only the 1990 Dallas Cowboys would have made the playoffs with a losing record.

John McMullen covers the Eagles for SI.com. You can listen to John every day at 4 ET on ESPN 97.3 in South Jersey and reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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