The 2014 season will probably be the last with only 12 playoff teams, Commissioner Roger Goodell said today.
Goodell said the league’s owners have discussed the issues related to expanding the playoffs to 14 teams, and he said he expects that to happen for the 2015 season. Goodell said the league will spend 2014 continuing to examine any issues related to beefing up the playoffs, and should be good to go for a 14-team playoff beginning in January of 2016.
“I do believe it will be approved for 2015,” he said. “I think we want to see one more year of, Will it impact the regular season in a positive way, from a competitive standpoint? Will it create more excitement, more races toward the end, of who’s going to qualify for the playoffs? And we also want to absorb the additional inventory into the marketplace, from an advertising standpoint.”
Goodell said “the primary reason” the NFL didn’t expand the playoffs this season is that the league wants to put all its focus on making the Thursday night package of games as good as they can be. The league doesn’t want to oversaturate the market with too much football, if such a thing is possible.
“We should proceed with the Thursday night focus that we have this year. We’re adding additional invoice to the marketplace,” Goodell said.
Although NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has suggested that the players may not be on board with expanding the playoffs, Goodell said it will be good for the players because it will produce more revenue and therefore raise the salary cap.
“I’ve had numerous conversations with DeMaurice,” Goodell said. “I think there’s a lot of benefits to the players. That’s something they’ll have to evaluate, but they’re our partners and I’ve said on many occasions before that we’re going to continue to have dialogue with all of our partners.”
Whatever the continued dialogue may be, it will almost certainly result in an announcement at some point that there will be 14 playoff teams next season.