National Football League owners officially approve the expansion of playoffs to 14 teams

Ross Houston
March 31, 2020

Expanding the NFL postseason was addressed in the new NFL-NFLPA Collective BargainingAgreement.

National Football League team owners formally approved a plan Tuesday to expand the postseason to 14 teams, beginning with the 2020 season.

Three-quarters of the 32 owners needed to approve the change, and there will now be 14 rather than 12 teams in the playoffs.


During a conference call to discuss league business after the annual meetings were cancelled due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the owners also awarded one of those extra games to CBS and one to NBC.

In the first round moving forward, the second-seeded team will host the seventh seed, No. 3 hosts No. 6, and No. 4 hosts No. 5.

The expanded format, which was agreed to in the new CBA, added one team per conference, creating six total wild card slots. The two division winners with the best records received first-round byes, and the other two division winners matched up against the wild-card teams. As part of CBS' broadcast, a version of the game designed for younger audiences will air on Nickelodeon.


The NFL did not make clear what it means by "tailored for a younger audience" with its broadcast on Nickelodeon, the children's network that has been around since 1977.

NBC, its new streaming service Peacock and Spanish-language Telemundo will broadcast an additional game on January 10.

Reducing the byes available to each conference could put an added importance on late regular-season games as teams fight to secure advantageous postseason positions.


The move to 14 playoff teams means 43.7 percent of all NFL teams would qualify for the postseason, compared to 33.3 percent in MLB (33.3), 51.6 in NHL and 53.3 in NBA.

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