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NFL: Breaking down the new 2020 playoff format

Roger Goodell and NFL owner Robert Kraft
Roger Goodell and NFL owner Robert Kraft
Mitch Bannon
Modified 12 Nov 2020, 02:30 IST

League owners approved a potential new NFL playoff format for the 2020 postseason, Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday. The new format would, if "meaningful" regular season games are canceled, expand the playoffs to 16 teams, eight in each conference.

The league previously agreed to a permanent change in the playoff format heading into the 2020-2021 season. As a result, 14 teams would continue to play following the regular season, and only one team per-conference would receive a bye.

The proposed expansion would only take place if a 256-game regular season cannot be completed in 18 weeks (only 17 weeks have scheduled games currently). No team would receive a bye week, and all teams are seeded based on win-percentage the now accepted proposal reads. This means that a team, like the NFC East champion, who would play a home playoff game despite posting a worse record than other playoff competitors, would no longer be awarded such.

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer wrote that "a lot of thought has gone into this," with even details such as tiebreaker order explained in the proposal.

Expand playoff bracket (through week 9):

AFC Playoff Picture:

  • #1 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #8 Cleveland Browns
  • #2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #7 Miami Dolphins
  • #3 Buffalo Bills vs. #6 Las Vegas Raiders
  • #4 Tennessee Titans vs. #5 Baltimore Ravens

NFC Playoff Picture:

  • #1 New Orleans Saints vs. #8 Philadelphia Eagles
  • #2 Seattle Seahawks vs. #7 Chicago Bears
  • #3 Green Bay Packers vs. #6 Los Angeles Rams
  • #4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. #5 Arizona Cardinals

Though the accepted playoff expansion is clearly a contingency plan in case of a large scale COVID-19 outbreak, the 16-team 2020 bracket could provide some intriguing matchups.

If the expanded postseason were to be played today, the Titans and Ravens would clash in a rematch of the 2019 AFC Divisional upset and the Browns would be participating in their first playoff since 2002 (looking for their first win since 1994). On the NFC side, Tom Brady would be participating in his 12th consecutive playoffs and, despite leading the NFC East, the Eagles would be the #8 seed and matchup against Drew Brees and the Saints.

Published 12 Nov 2020, 02:30 IST
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