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The NFL and the NFLPA are in the late stages of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement that will set the league’s labor terms for the next several years.
On Wednesday, news broke that the new CBA is expected to implement an expanded playoff while owners continue to push for extending the regular season from 16 to 17 games.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that players and owners are expected to agree on playoff expansion from six teams to seven in each conference. The proposed format would add an extra game to wild-card weekend for each conference with the No. 2 seed losing a first-round bye to take on the No. 7 seed. The No. 1 seed in each conference would still automatically advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Owners are also continuing to push for a 17-game regular season, according to the report. The proposal would shorten the preseason from four games to three. While the two sides are reportedly in harmony on playoff expansion, where the NFL stands on an extra week in the regular season remains unclear.
Why there’s debate
While there are differing levels of support for the expanded playoff and regular season, they both touch on a common theme. Is more football a good thing or a bad thing?
With increased awareness and knowledge of the physical toll that football takes on players’ bodies and brains, critics point to the extra games as excessive greed. They amount to a blatant money grab that flies in the face of player safety.
Also, why mess with what works? The NFL’s regular season has the highest stakes of any major American professional sports league. Any game can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. These games are worth watching.
The playoffs are well-balanced too. Twelve out of 32 teams make the postseason in the current format, which largely leaves mediocre teams watching from home, where they belong. Rarely does a .500 or worse team sneak into the playoffs, which is a common occurrence in oversaturated NBA and NHL postseasons.
The upside of more football? Well ... more football, of course.
America loves watching football. Sunday is a day of reverence in America for more than just church-goers. While we might complain today about watering down the regular season and playoffs, those same fans won’t be mad when they get an extra week in the regular season and two more playoff games every wild-card round.
The CBA has to be agreed upon. The NFL’s new year officially starts on March 18. There’s optimism that a deal will be struck in time for the new year, but both sides remain in talks. Playoff expansion is expected to pass and be implemented immediately for the 2020 season. The path for a 17th week in the regular season isn’t as clear. If it does pass, it’s not expected to go into effect until 2021.
“A seventh team in the NFL playoffs is good because it increases the rarity and advantage of the first-round bye and makes the end of the season more competitive.” — Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated
Everybody gets paid
“The 13th seed is usually better than a sizable chunk of the teams that make it to the playoffs. The most noteworthy change, I think, is taking the bye from the #2 seed, which *should* boost parity.” — Mina Kimes, ESPN
Hooray, football — consequences be damned
“The new NFL CBA will give us more playoff games and shorten the awful preseason. What is the problem, exactly? ... More NFL is good news. All other worries, whether of the gluttonous or moral variety, be damned.” — Alex Reimer, Forbes
Criticism is just noise
“Despite predictable Twitter reaction, the NFL, according to reports, will expand its regular season & playoffs next year and .....everyone will watch. Now please return to your regularly scheduled internet outrage.” — Colin Cowherd, FS1
It’s a money grab
“The proposed changes in the new NFL CBA aren't that complicated. It's a money grab from two sides who want the pie to keep growing. But that doesn't mean we have to love the new 14-team playoff format.” — Joe Fann, NBC Sports Northwest Seahawks reporter
Agreed, it’s a money grab
“The reason, of course, is money. One more week of regular-season programming and two additional wild-card round games to sell.” — Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
‘My body was hurting’
“If the NFL wants to change the season to 17 games they should ask me, and I say no. Because my body was hurting and I needed that break.” — Emmanuel Sanders, WR, San Francisco 49ers (Sanders played in 17 games last season because of a midseason trade).
Don’t dilute the playoffs
“This doesn't make the playoffs more competitive. It waters down the field. Could a seven seed catch fire and make a run like a handful of six seeds have in years past? Absolutely. But the postseason should be an exclusive club.” — Jonathan Jones, CBS Sports
“After the No. 1 seeds make it to the Super Bowl every year for the next five years, fans will clamor for 16 playoff teams and the owners will be like, ‘Well, if you insist.’” — Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
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