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NFL considers expanding playoff format

The NFL could be on the verge of expanding its playoff format to include two more teams each season, two NFL sources confirmed Wednesday.

The proposal is to be discussed at an NFL owners meetings this week and could be approved later this month, allowing the new plan to be in place next season.

The expanded structure would increase the number of playoff teams from six per conference to seven while limiting first-round byes to one team per conference

The playoff expansion is one part of the collective bargaining agreement that has been agreed with the NFL Players Association. Still to be negotiated is whether the regular-season schedule expands from 16 games per season to 17.

Under the current playoff format, the top two seeds from the AFC and NFC are granted byes to the divisional round. Should the proposed plan pass, only the top seed in each conference would get a pass to the first round.

The new format would expand the Wild Card round to six games rather than the current four. The move would provide motivation for teams vying for the top seed to play through all 16 games in order — and not cruise through the final game — to secure a coveted week off at the start of the postseason.

The playoff expansion might open the door to a Sunday night or Monday night playoff game. The format would increase revenue through ticket sales and television broadcast rights — an enticement for owners and part of the motivation for the change.

But NFL players also would benefit from additional revenue that would create a n increase to the yearly salary cap.

“(The) value to an extra game on wild card weekend is increasing revenue,” said a high-ranking NFL official.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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