Reports: NFL approves contingency allowing for more playoff teams originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
In the season of the coronavirus, the NFL (and all sports leagues) have been forced to get creative when it comes to playing out their seasons. That's been doubly true of postseasons, and this week the NFL made new amendments to its playoff format on top of the changes it had already adopted entering 2020.
According to reports, NFL owners voted unanimously to approve the addition of one playoff team to each conference -- bringing the total to eight each in the AFC and NFC -- in the event that the league is unable to complete its regular season schedule as a result of COVID-19.
NFL owners approved a proposal to add two playoff teams - eight in each conference - if regular-season games get cancelled.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 10, 2020
Roger Goodell, @nflcommish, announces that the owners have adopted two resolutions:
1. Incentives to reward teams that develop coaches and executives of color.
2. Expanded 16-team playoff was unanimously approved by owners, but amended to not have an re-seeding for playoffs.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 10, 2020
The NFL had already added two playoff teams entering 2020, raising the total number from 12 to 14. Now, the league is prepared to have a 16-team postseason, which means including exactly half of the teams in the NFL, as an emergency option to make up for lost games due to the pandemic.
After few early-season positive test results, more and more players have had to go on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list in recent weeks. With less time remaining on the schedule and many teams having already used their bye weeks, the league's flexibility for rescheduling games is dwindling, making it important that it comes up with alternative options.
For teams like Washington who are hoping to win a weaker division and still earn a playoff game, their dreams are still on the table, though it's hard to tell what might change in the next two months as the league continues to adapt to the pandemic landscape.
Hopefully for the NFL, this format won't have to come to fruition and the league will play all its games. But the league is doing its part to stay proactive with as many contingency plans as possible for the time being.