How Would NFL Playoff Expansion Have Affected Past Vikings Teams?
Seven teams from each conference will make the postseason if NFL owners and players agree on the new proposed collective bargaining agreement, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. There is "mounting optimism" that a deal will get done "sometime in the next week" according to Schefter. If that's the case, the new playoff format will go into effect for the 2020 season.
Only one team from each conference would get a first-round bye under this format, with two extra games being added to wild-card weekend. The new CBA would also increase the number of regular season games to 17, shortening the preseason to three games, though that wouldn't go into effect until 2021 at the earliest. The 12-team NFL playoff format has been the same since 1990.
Using the 2019 season as an example, the 9-7 Rams (who finished with the seventh-best record in the NFC) would have played the second-seeded, 13-3 Packers on wild-card weekend. Ditto for the 8-8 Steelers traveling to play the eventual champion Chiefs in the first round.
From the Vikings' perspective, this would've certainly made things interesting over the last few years if it had been implemented earlier. They would've made the playoffs in 2018 despite finishing with an 8-7-1 record, and would've faced the 13-3 Rams (who went on to win the NFC) in the first round. In 2017, when the Vikings were 13-3 and the No. 2 seed, they would've had to host the 9-7 Lions (who had already won at U.S. Bank Stadium during the regular season) in the first round.
Looking back even further, the No. 2 seed 2009 Vikings would've had to play an extra game. The Vikings would've also made the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in 2003, 2005, and 2007.
If passed, this new system will increase the Vikings' chances of making the playoffs in 2020. They snuck in as the No. 6 seed last season, and will have to compete for a berth with not only the other five 2019 NFC playoff teams, but potential bounce-back teams like the Cowboys, Bears, Rams, and Falcons, as well as Kyler Murray's Cardinals.
It seems like this 14-team playoff format is coming soon, even if it doesn't arrive next year, and it will be very interesting to see how things change.