In March, commissioner Roger Goodell suggested there may be support among owners to add a seventh playoff team to each conference in the NFL. And while, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, there was no discussion at the NFL-NFLPA meeting of expanding the current playoff format, former Indianapolis Colts executive and current SiriusXM NFL Radio host Bill Polian said it would be wise to incorporate two additional teams into the postseason.
I think it’s a good idea. We’ve expanded the league. The competition committee looked at this about seven or eight years ago, and was in favor of it. At that time the league office told us that there really was no appetite for it on the television networks. … I think there’s obviously appetite for it now. Here’s the benefit, beyond the obvious: If you’re fighting for a seventh playoff spot, another wild card spot, it keeps races alive and it creates meaningful games well into the last quarter of the season. And so it’s very likely that a game on the 16th or 17th weekend with virtually every team would have playoff implications of some sort. So that’s a good thing. The more latter part of the season, which is played in bad weather in northern climates and sometimes have meaningless games – meaningless for the standings – this increases the chances that those games will be meaningful, and therefore attractive to the fans. Part of the problem with the so called 18-game season was that it was going to create an entire weekend of games that were less than meaningful in very bad weather conditions. This is, I think, a great counterweight to that. It gives the league office what they want – which is more football – and it gives the fans games that are more meaningful, and it gives fans in lots of cities in the league who otherwise would be out of the race a great opportunity to be in the race. In addition to which, the more teams that you put in the race, the more chances you have for tiebreakers coming into play. So therefore, tiebreakers early in the year become issues. Division games become issues, conference games become issues, that they wouldn’t ordinarily be. So it’s possible that you could come down to the last weekend with four teams or five teams in the running for the last two playoff spots, and that means you’ve got 10 meaningful games right off the bat, and tiebreakers being involved. That’s great for the sport.
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