If the NFL decides to expand the playoff field to 14 teams, the biggest question is, When would those additional playoff games be played? And the answer might be Friday night and Monday night.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said on NFL Network that an expanded playoff format with six games during the wild card weekend might include three games each on Saturday and Sunday, or it might include a Friday night game and a Monday night game.
“The big discussion would be the first weekend, the wild card weekend of the playoffs, how would you structure that? Three on Saturday, three on Sunday? We’re looking at every alternative, and I think that’s what the membership ultimately is going to have to decide,” Goodell said. “Would you play a game on Friday night, two on Saturday, two on Sunday and another on Monday?”
Monday Night Football has become so ingrained a part of American football that it makes perfect sense to have playoff games on Monday nights as well. An NFL playoff game on a Friday night, however, would seem just plain strange. The best format for a six-game playoff weekend might be two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one on Monday.
Goodell acknowledged that there are plenty of issues to straighten out, including whether it would be fair to the team that wins the Monday night game to require it to play a divisional-round game on a short work week. And Goodell said he doesn’t expect the NFL to have all the issues sorted out in time to expand the playoffs for the 2014 season.
“I would be surprised if it happens this year. I think if it happened it probably wouldn’t happen before ’15,” Goodell said.
The bottom line, however, is the bottom line: Two more playoff teams would mean two more playoff games, which could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for the NFL. It’s probably just a matter of time before the NFL squeezes two more games into the first weekend of the playoffs.