Goodell says playoffs could expand


At the conclusion of the league’s quarterly ownership meeting in Dallas, Commissioner Roger Goodell dusted off a concept that rears its head from time to time.

Expanded playoffs.

Goodell said that the owners “teed up” the issue of expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 or 16 teams, and that the discussions will continue in the coming months.

The use of 16 playoff teams would eliminate the bye weeks, requiring the top two seeds in each conference to play in the wild-card round, which would become a quarterfinal round in the AFC and NFC.

It also suggests that, with a 16-team playoff field, perhaps the NFL will eventually decide to fill vacancies in L.A. and London via expansion.

143 responses to “Goodell says playoffs could expand

  1. What a terrible idea. What’s the point in playing 16 regular games then (or 18 for that matter)?

  2. Just stop! So worried about safety, but let’s have 18 games, Thursday games, and more playoffs. Please step down.

  3. The fact that the Jets even have a chance of being in the playoffs this season is evidence enough that they should not be expanded.

  4. If I’m a HC in the NFL, I hate this, because I know I’m likely done if I can’t get my team into a 16 team playoff field.

  5. The point of playing 18 games (sorry Ray Lewis, but it’s inevitable because it’s too much a credible idea not to be) is the same as always – to get into the playoffs. The idea that adding a third wildcard per conference (not sure a fourth will be added) will somehow dilute the regular season is absurd. If anything it can tighten up regular season.

  6. Is this another one of those ideas where Goodell will claim that all the fans are in favor, when in reality 90%+ of fans are opposed to the idea?

    Does he plan on expanding the regular season AND the playoffs? Will the season eventually be 30 weeks long? Give it a rest, Goodell. The league is as good as it’s gonna get. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  7. Meh. I don’t think I’d mind an additional wild card team.

    It would also put that much more incentive to get the top seed as it would come with home field and the only bye in the playoffs.

  8. I hate this idea passionately. It removes all incentive from finishing inside top 2 seeds of conference

  9. The first round bye gives the great teams reason to play their starters until the end. You do this and teams will be clinched and resting by week 15!

  10. Please no. Getting to the playoffs should be a accomplishment, we would start .500 or under teams in the playoffs and that would be terrible. Only way a .500 or under team should go to the playoffs is if they somehow win their division which has been done before but very unlikely..

  11. With 16 teams in the playoffs, it woukld make the regular season a lot more meaningless.

    There is only one benefit here and its revenue for the league and the teams. It would do nothing to but cheapen the game itself.

  12. I hate to tell him, but the playoffs is what makes the regular season so much fun and so important. Each game of the 16 that is played is meaningful and is why people care about the regular season (unlike baseball or basketball where its more about trends and less about the individual games).

    Expanding the teams that get in to half the league means that teams with an 8-8 or 9-7 record will routinely get in the playoffs, and likely some 7-9 teams as well. This takes away the significance of the regular season and makes for some terrible football in the post-season.

  13. Hey Rodger? Quit messing with the NFL, its perfect as it is otherwise it wouldn’t be as popular. I can’t wait to see this clown try and say “its what the fans want”

  14. Great idea, more teams will have the opportunities to be in the Super Bowl and not the same teams every year.

  15. Playoffs are fine as they are, and the bye week is an important reward, despite so many teams wasting it over the years. They need to go to two bye weeks in the regular season and have the Thursday game after one of them, or drop the Thursday night games all together.

  16. I am starting to think that Roger Goodell suffers from Jerry Jones syndrome. A guy who loves reading his name in the paper so he says whatever to get attention. A guy who believes all press is good press, even bad press.
    If Roger got relieved of the duties of commissioner, I know I should feel bad for him but he has not given me a legitimate reason to feel any sympathy for him.

  17. dmartin17, you’re wrong. Thursday Night games are good.

    manningbowl88 – there’s never been any correlation between number of games in a season and incidence of injuries.

  18. I’m not a Goodell basher but when I hear ideas like this, I wonder if he’s not an operative for the USFL.

  19. I for one will gladly hail the future Euro Football Conference North champions, the Oslo Vikings.

  20. I hate the bye week format because it skews the standings for much of the season (you know, sort of like when the Republicans thought Romney had it in the bag all the way into election night because of the skewed polling data they used).

    So, if a 16 team playoff format eliminates the bye week, I vote yes.

  21. The idea of a team in London is the worst NFL idea to date. But this expanded playoffs idea comes pretty close. And the Thursday night NFL Network games are a close third.

    I’m all for getting football to the people who want it, but these three ideas change football for the worse.

    If England wants a football league then let them develop one all on their own. Expanded playoffs at the expense of the BYE means more great players sitting on IR. And games on Thursday produce a lot of short weeks that don’t help the game. Plus, it’s just more money we have to shell out!

  22. A terrible idea. If you start expanding playoff teams inevitably you will start getting teams with a losing record in the playoffs on a regular basis. What is the sense in that?

  23. This is without a doubt the single worst idea that Goodell has ever had as concerns the NFL.

    We already had a 7-9 team make the playoffs, there’s absolutely no need to make this a yearly occurrence.

  24. No bye week but we’re concerned about player safety. And this is not about money either. The NFL is just trying to enhance the fan experience. And keep the players safe by adding more games. And those Thursday night games? The fans love them so they are here to stay. Only because the fans want them. It’s not the money. Trust us!

  25. Does this guy wake up in the morning look in the mirror and say what is the best way I could ruin the league today?

  26. Awful idea, this would anger me way more than an 18 game schedule (which I also don’t like) the NFL playoffs are fine the way they are.

    The owners and Roger Goodell need to leave the game the way it is.

  27. Wow doesn’t amaze me that all of you think it’s a bad idea. Is it because Goodell proposed it? 1 week extra of the playoffs. + to expansion teams? Sounds awesome!

  28. Easy Goodell. You’re halfway on the way to becoming the NBA or NHL where your regular season means absolutely nothing. leave it at 12 because nobody wants to see another garbage team like the 7-9 Seahawks beat a real Super Bowl contender again just because Qwest field is nearly impossible to win at, and adding even two more teams will ensure we get more of these types of teams in.

    Three out of your last four champions have barely made it to the playoffs with borderline records. We don’t need to push that needle even further over to where we have more underwhelming regular season teams winning it all.

    I didn’t think it mattered, but it really does take the air out of things when 9-7 and 10-6 wild card teams are suddenly winning on a regular basis when before it happened twice in 25 years, and those Raider and Bronco teams were really good, these champs, not so much, just the hottest teams for a month like the NCAA tournament or something.

  29. This man will stop at nothing to completely change AND ruin the game I love.

    I can’t wait to hear his next great idea … Probably the removal of the forward pass (too dangerous).

    Every single time Goodell opens his mouth, I find myself liking and respecting him even less.

  30. The whole AFC North will annually get a playoff berth then…yes even the browns, they are young and getting better

  31. The NFL should never have more than 12 teams in the playoffs. What ought to happen is that those NFL head coaches who want their teams to be in the playoffs should start telling their players (by week 3 at the latest) that ‘men…our playoffs begin now’. Start playing and coaching in mid-September like you are hell-bent on the postseason and there’ll be no need for playoff expansion.

  32. No kickoffs, half the league makes the playoffs, 18 game season, taking hitting out of football, expansion to Europe. What’s next? Advertising on uniforms? QBs wear red jerseys in games? Apparently Goodell isn’t satisfied with having the most popular, most lucrative professional sport in America. He is watering it down to the point of no return. The madness has to stop.

  33. contra74 says: Dec 12, 2012 6:55 PM

    Heck lets just give everyone medals at the end of the season just for participating.


    Interesting idea coming from a Vikings fan…

  34. Someone should propose going back to six divisions as well.. Four divisions opened the possibility up to get more duds in.

    Roger Goodell really needs to go because he’s proposing unnecessary changes to a game that was perfect when he inherited the Commisioner job.

  35. There are too many mediocre teams that make the playoffs as it is- didn’t a team with a losing record make the playoffs last year? Usually the wild card teams are 9-7 or 8-8 right now. Expanding that reduces the importance of the regular season.

    I agree with the other comment that they should get rid of Thursday night games.

    I would much rather see changes in penalty rules. For example:

    1. Get rid of allowing a free-play hail mary pass to the offense when a defensive lineman jumps offsides. Blow the play dead. No free TD attempt. Just like when an offensive lineman has a false-start.

    2. Get rid of some of the recent rule changes that favor passing and emphasis (even more) the QB position. For example, the free throw-away rule- change back to intentional grounding. Loosen-up pass interference rules that favor WRs.

    The rules that are meant to protect QBs only result in more passing- and a QB is about 100x more likely to get hurt on a designed passing play compared to a designed running play (other than a bootleg). Moreover, lineman, WRs and DBs are all more likely to get hurt on passing plays compared to running plays. You see it every week.

    Making these changes will result in a more balanced game, eliminate some of the arbitrary / random penalty factors that create a disconnect between the play on the field and the score of the game, reduce injuries, and make it a less QB-centric game. All of which is good for the game of football.

    As it stands, NFL football is basically turning into a flag football match where some games are decided by QBs throwing it up for a jump ball where the rules favor the receiver. Other games are often decided by bad or ticky-tack calls where the penalty is much worse than the infraction, and who makes it to, and through, the playoffs is often decided by injuries.

    There really needs to be a major re-think about penalties, rules and incentives that have been made over the years and how they have distorted the game- and cheapened it in many ways.

  36. Thursday night games.
    18 game regular season.
    Teams in London.
    Now this.
    This commissioner keeps pushing one bonehead idea after another.
    If it ain`t broke, don`t fix it!
    Greed is going to ruin the NFL.

  37. Playoffs? I’m a Cardinals fan so I won’t have to work about that for quite a while.

    An 18 game regular season, on the other hand, would just mean 4-14 instead of 4-12. Therefore, I’m against that.

  38. it’s so childish: “playoffs are cool so let’s make more playoffs.”
    the nfl playoff season is the perfect sports event. only an idiot would try to change it.

  39. I only see this as being a solution for teams that have winning records. Those teams miss the playoffs because a team with a losing record or not as good of a record goes because they are the division champ.

  40. No. Just no. We don’t want under .500 teams to be in the playoffs. They don’t deserve to be there!

  41. Here’s how to the NFL should be:

    1) No playoff expansion. 12 teams is fine. I don’t see how they can expand the playoffs and still allow for psychotics like me to watch every single playoff game. They will either have to have two games going on at once or add a 1PM Sat. kickoff and a Sunday night 8:00 kickoff.
    2) No league expansion. 32 teams is fine. Move someone to L.A. if you want a team there.
    3) No London team. If you want teams in Europe, restart NFL Europe again and watch it fail.
    4) Doubleheaders on both CBS and FOX every Sunday.
    5) Move the Thurs. games to Saturday (except Thanksgiving). OR if you insist on having the Thurs. game, the two teams that play that week should be on bye the week before. After Thanksgiving the Thurs. game should be on Saturday Night.

  42. Watch how fast London is shot down when the owners in the AFC West and NFC West point out the travel schedule if they have to actually go there for a regular season game. Seahawks hate traveling 3 time zones… think they’ll be real happy traveling 8? That’s 14 hours in the air each way.

  43. Stupid idea. If it works don’t fix it needs to be applied to this. I could see reworking the playoff picture because of teams like the cheat hawks getting in with a 7-9 record, but adding more teams is a horrible idea.

  44. This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Nothing is forever; just ask the MLB and it’s place as “America’s Pastime”

  45. Twelve teams is great and it adds to the importance of late season games and makes so many regular season games meaningful. If there were no byes, the Patriots, Falcons, and Broncos would have shut it down for the season already. As it is right now, the Jets, a crappy team, are borderline competing for a playoff spot. Maybe that’s what this is about.

  46. I know this is the “everybody gets a trophy” generation, but c’mon man, this is the NFL, not Pop Warner. 1/2 the teams make the playoffs? Really?

  47. Wow! Talk about diluting the product. If you really want regular season games that don’t matter, try a Patriots and 49ers schedule where they are locked into the playoffs in week 10. Nevermind all the 7-9 or even 6-10 teams that may find their way into the winner-takes-all tournament. Having a wild card go all the way and win the Super Bowl makes for a great storyline, but it also makes the regular season less meaningful. Try having half the teams in the playoffs wild cards, and you will lose any value to those first 17 weeks.

  48. The NFL should not turn to the NBA playoff way of doing things. Getting in the playoffs should be a difficult task, there should be an award – such as a first round bye – for teams who earned it, and extending the season is hypocritical of the NFL’s player safety first philosophy. Keep it the way it is now and do not remove kickoffs!

  49. I hate to say it, but this has a good chance of happening. I can vision players contradicting themselves on playing more games to have a better shot at a championship. Don’t be surprised if this idea is liked by players and put to a union vote.

  50. Goddell floating ideas out to the public again. It is a bad idea but he met with the owners ans they want to maximize the money….NOW. Too bad Roger and the Owners dont care about the future of the NFL. Make your money now boys, NASCAR is laughing at you

  51. Here are the would-be 13 & 14 playoff teams from the last 10 seasons. It would allow deserving 10+ win teams to get a spot, but for the most part, it would just let a 9-7 or 8-8 team back-door into the playoffs. Expanding to 16 teams will have 7-9 and even 6-10 teams in the playoffs!! How does this make the product better? We already see an 8-8 team in the playoffs every other year. What a joke.


    2011*: 8-8 (PHL or CHI or ARZ); 9-7 (TEN)
    2010*: 10-6 (NYG or TB); 9-7 (SD)
    2009: 9-7 (ATL); 9-7 (PIT or HOU)
    2008*: 9-7 (DAL or TB or CHI); 11-5 (NE)
    2007: 8-8 (PHL or MIN or ARZ); 10-6 (CLE)
    2006*: 8-8 (GB or CAR or STL); 9-7 (DEN)
    2005: 9-7 (DAL or MIN); 10-6 (KC)
    2004*: 8-8 (NO); 9-7 (BUF or BAL or JAC)
    2003; 9-7 (MIN); 10-6 (MIA)
    2002: 9-7 (NO); 9-7 (multiple)

    *=an 8-8 (or worse) team won their division

  52. To any long-time viewer of pro football, its obvious that the game of football peaked a long time ago. The NFL has been sacrificing the game of football through rule changes and other things to increase viewership and revenue.

    First they changed the rules to favor passing- to make the game “more accessible” to a greater viewing audience. Then, after injuries began to increase, they began slowly imposing increasingly technical and subjective penalties that are increasingly difficult to call correctly, and often result in penalties that are much worse than the infraction.

    The results are:

    1) The game has become less a team game and more of a QB game. If you don’t have a good QB, your post-season hopes are limited at best. On the other hand, one-dimensional passing teams with a top QB and mediocre defenses have become “dynasties.”

    2) More and more games are decided by referees, bad calls and jump balls- creating a random/arbitrary factor in who wins or loses.

    3) There has become increasingly a disconnect between the play on the field and the score of a game. A few cheap plays can make up for a whole game of poor defense, for example.

    All of this is eroding the appeal of the game, and it won’t be long before viewership and ticket sales begin to decline as well.

  53. The idea of the play-offs is for teams to really be competitive and fight till the end for 12 spots, which is fine as it is less than half of the league. Putting half the league in the play-offs will result in more teams being content since their position won’t change or something.

    I really don’t get what Goodell is trying to do. He wants safety yet he keeps bringing up scenarios that would result in more games. The way it is now is 11 games. 5 for each Conference and the Superbowl. 16 teams would result in 7 games for each and the Superbowl. And as it has been mentioned, the play-offs should be a reward, make it mean something to be there, don’t try to get more teams in. Pretty soon each play-off game will turn into a 2 out of 3 with games being played all over the World.

    The game is already softer than before with all of this penalties and instant fines proceeding them no matter if it was a phantom call. Don’t make it worse. As in the words of Mike Ditka…….STOP IT!!

  54. Good start, but I don’t think Goodell is thinking big enough, I’m psyched for 32 team playoffs- Doesn’t matter how terrible your team is, you’re automatically in the postseason.

  55. Anyway these guys can find a way to get more games in they will, more games more money, it’s just another way to get around the other awful idea of an 18 game schedule. Goodell needs to go!!!

  56. Expand to 16 teams and have the extra fours first round games played in London, Berlin, Tokyo, and Mexico City.

    Woo-hoo, what fun that will be for Roger!

  57. Why don’t we have 32 teams make the playoffs?

    And if you win one game during the regular season, you’re considered a Super Bowl champion?

    Then every team would be a winner.

    Think off all the revenue.

  58. I love the idea of 14 but hate 16.

    With 14 you reward the top teams in each conference for winning the regular season. Currently the gap between the 2 and 3 seeds is usually razor thin and sometimes settled by tiebreaker.

    The 14 team option adds no additional weeks but makes the wild card chase a little more interesting.

    16 would be awful.

  59. In 2010 the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record, becoming the first NFL team to make the playoffs with a losing record in a full season.

    So we need more teams in the playoffs with losing records?

  60. Wow they just won’t quit with the dumb ideas. We already have atleast one team getting in every year at .500 or worse. Yayy subpar competition. I can see it now. Refs blow calls and 7-9 team plays in super bowl.

  61. whats next a best of three series per round?

    cmon roger grab your collar give it a good yank and get your head back into the light.

  62. Has any previous commissioner EVER changed as much or tried to change as much about this game? I really can see how the commissioner wants to better the game and oversee the league but geeezzzz… Leave it alone, it is getting to where the fans won’t recognize it anymore. I understand safety but it is a rough sport. If you don’t want to get hurt don’t play! I guess they should tell the NASCAR guys you can’t go faster than 35mph!

  63. As is? Terrible idea.

    But if, as was hinted at, the NFL is looking at adding a bunch of expansion teams….

    Well if we went from 32 teams to 36 teams, you’d basically have enough for another division, and it would make sense to add to the playoffs.

    But god, half the teams in the playoffs? You remember how annoyed everyone was that the 7-9 Seahawks got in to the tournament? Get ready for a bunch of 5 win teams in the playoffs…

  64. With the league getting tighter and tighter every year in terms of top to bottom talent, records will continue to go down and you’ll see more divisions like the NFC West and North where there are a bunch of teams with close records.

    Expand playoffs for another couple teams, then give another bye based on points scored or divisional record. Everyone wins with expanded playoffs. I know I’d like to see another upset like a couple years back when the Squaks bumped the Saints.

  65. Yeah lets just make the regular season less important by allowing more teams into the playoffs… and while were at it lets reduce player safety by adding more games…

    One positive, more playoff games will allow more opportunities for Rog to sling around more fines.

  66. This is a HORRIBLE idea! Just another example of Goodell being more interested in profits than player safety. He’s an egotistical hypocrite. I’m willing to bet at least 90% of REAL fans are opposed to this watering down of the play-off’s. The other 10% like this idea because it’s the only way their team could make the play-off’s. If Goodell gets his way, the NFL play-off’s will become a joke…just like the NBA. It’s bad enough we have to suffer through a million college bowl games, some of which have teams that are only .500
    Thanks, but no thanks!

  67. More games means so much more money that’s it’s all but inevitable we’ll get 18 games and expanded playoffs. It’ll be as bad as the NBA where you have to completely blow your season not to have a puncher’s chance in the post-season. We’ll kvetch and complain and rant and rail and watch every single game possible.

    It sickens me the owner’s can’t see how adding more games dilutes everything we fans love about the NFL. An 18 game season and expanded playoffs dramatically increases the likelihood players I so enjoy watching will be on IR or watching from the sideline

  68. Goodell has finally gone off his rocker. Expanding the number of playoff teams is ludicrous in itself. Who wants .500 or sub-.500 teams in the playoffs? But expanding to Europe (London)? Come on! The logistics would be a nightmare (6+ hour time difference from PST zone and England, etc.). And good luck finding any players to play there. No business having an NFL team overseas. Crazy….

  69. Here’s an idea for 3 more postseason games. Instead of having a draft lottery, take the lowest 4 teams regardless of conference and have a tournament. The team with the worst record gets home field. The winner of the tournament gets the #1 pick.

  70. If anything they ought to reduce the regular season to 14 games and keep the playoff teams at 12. The regular season has become largely a bore because the teams are so mediocre all you need to do is go 9-7 to have a shot at the playoffs. If you add more teams, you will have teams with losing records getting in.

  71. I have no problem with businesses trying to change and grow and even gasp…trying to make more money. What I have a problem with is when they do it with a lack of common sense that leads to watering down their product. That’s what adding a team overseas and expanding the playoffs and adding regular season games would be.

  72. I’d be fine with adding 4 additional teams (to 16 total) if and only if, it is structured so that the top 4 seeds (re: Division winners) all get byes the first week. That way, it truly means something to win your division. Of course, those teams that are in other divisions who have better records than some division winners will protest, but they can suck it up. Win your division and reap the spoils. The bye may or may not help, but you can’t deny that it’ll be interesting.

  73. Most of you posting complaints here seem to be missing several things.

    1) The Commissioner of the league works for the 32 owners. He answers to them, collectively. So for the love of God, stop talking about the guy as if he makes the rules. He’s simply the face of the league, as has been the case since the merger.

    2) Clearly, as the ratings are higher than ever, the owners are making the right decisions, and are NOT diluting their brand. The opinions expressed here, simply support opinions which are contrary to the facts.

    Personally, I like watching the NFL, and if there were two more regular season games, I’d be quite happy. Also, if they expanded the playoffs, great! Who doesn’t want there team to get in? In the end, the best team will still make it through, and the best team will win the SuperBowl.

  74. I am a big NFL fan. I really like the NFL the way it is now. Especially the postseason is the most quality in all sports, and all the teams play hard every 16 regular season games to get every chance to qualify.

    But if it is really necessary to expand post season, I think the following would be good version.

    – 16 teams make playoffs. ( 4 division winners and 4 wild card teams each conference )
    – Playoff week 1. Wild Card Round. All division winners got bye (division winner advantage + ensures quality play in regular season)
    – Playoff week 2. Semi-divisional Round. Seed #3 and #4 hosts two wild card winners. Top two seed division winners on bye (top two seed advantage + ensures quality play in regular season)
    – Playoff week 3. Divisional Round. Seed #1 and #2 hosts the two winners of previous round.
    – Playoff week 4. Conference Championships.
    – Super Bowl.

  75. dougy:
    Obviously you are a casual fan; otherwise you’d be aware that the “best teams” don’t always win the Super Bowl.
    The Giants of last season are a prime example. The Giants finished the 2011 regular season at 9-7. The Packers were 15-1. Do the math.
    In that AFC, the 2011 Patriots qualified for the postseason with a 13-3 record. They defeated no team last season that finished the season with a winning record.
    The two best teams in the NFL last season were the Packers and Ravens. However, neither of those two teams advanced to the Super Bowl.
    Adding more teams to the postseason tournament will only REDUCE the odds of seeing the two best teams in Super Bowls.

  76. I’m personally in favor of an expansion to a 14 team playoff field – it would be a change that’d reduce the risk of elite teams missing the playoffs (those occasional 11-5s) but wouldn’t alter the dynamic of darkhorse division team winners (see 7-9 Seahawks). Furthermore, this change could conceivably be implemented before an expansion to a 34 team field – which would roughly return us to the likes of a 14/32 playoff field.

    Also, the league should reduce Thursday games for player safety, but expand the season to 17 games – no more 8-8 teams. And the kickoff SHOULD be replaced with a modified punt (no more kickoff specialists on either side, more emphasis on punt returners and gunners, slightly increased chance of onside kicks) but that’s another issue entirely.

    The NFL is ready for some radical changes, just not the kind that we’re due for.

  77. Really don’t think this is a good idea. Too many teams getting in will reduce the quality of the Playoffs and mean more teams with poor records will get in. I’ve written about this on my blog and it shows how many more Wildcard teams make it to the Super Bowl even now than they used to, put extra teams in and that is only going to happen more.

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