While the NFL would prefer to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18, the league’s health and safety concerns come off as hollow if the NFL adds 32 games to the current workload of 256.
The fallback, then, unless and until the NFLPA decides to pursue expansion of the regular season on its own, will be to shrink the preseason and replace the revenue with more playoff games.
Commissioner Roger Goodell recently hinted at it, and Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that the end result could be a three-week preseason and two more playoff teams.
The expansion to 14 would add two more playoff games, with the No. 2 seed in each conference playing the No. 7 seed. Under that scenario, only the No. 1 seed in each conference would have a bye, and wild-card weekend would have six games instead of four.
While the NFL has full discretion to cut the preseason in half under the labor deal, the NFLPA would have to agree to any increase in the regular season or postseason. Though the union’s position on expanded playoffs isn’t known, the players would be far more likely to embrace two extra playoff games than two extra weeks of games.