With the NFL and NFL Players Association closing in on a new CBA that will expand the playoffs from 12 teams to 14, it’s tempting to consider how seven teams per conference would have played out if seven teams per conference had previously been in place. So we’ve gone 10 years down the seven-team rabbit hole in an effort to identify the franchises that would have made it, and which opponents they would have faced.
The biggest winners would have been the Steelers, who would have made the playoffs in 2019, 2018, 2013, and 2012 as the seventh seed in the AFC. (Obviously, having seven and not six playoff spots may have changed late-season dynamics, potentially altering the ultimate configuration of the playoff trees.) The Steelers also would have been forced to play in the wild-card round two more times, as the No. 2 seed in 2017 and 2010.
Losing out in an environment of expanded playoffs would have been the Patriots. A surprising 0-2 in their past two wild-card games at home, the Patriots would have played five more wild-card homes games in the past 10 years, in 2018, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.
The full list of the extra playoff games that would have been played, in each of the last 10 years, appears after the jump.
2019: Steelers at Chiefs, Rams at Packers.
2018: Steelers at Patriots, Vikings at Rams.
2017: Ravens at Steelers, Lions at Vikings.
2016: Titans at Chiefs, Buccaneers at Falcons.
2015: Jets at Patriots, Falcons at Cardinals.
2014: Texans at Patriots, Eagles at Seahawks.
2013: Steelers at Patriots, Cardinals at Panthers.
2012: Steelers at Patriots, Bears at 49ers.
2011: Titans at Ravens, Bears at 49ers.
2010: Chargers at Steelers, Giants at Bears.