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We have known since the NFL rescheduled eight games during the Titans’ COVID-19 issues that the league would do whatever it took to avoid adding Week 18 to the regular season schedule. Now, as Chris Mortensen reports, the NFL competition committee is discussing further expansion of the playoffs if any games are canceled from here on out:
The contingency, if necessary, would take 4 division champions and 4 wild card teams from each AFC and NFC.
Playoff seeds would be 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5. https://t.co/bSHoU1OAKd
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 2, 2020
The NFL has already expanded the playoffs this season from 12 teams to 14, and this new revision would add two more. However, there are a couple of significant drawbacks to the idea.
First, it would mostly harm the No. 1 seeds, whoever they may be, as they’ve been playing this season with the presumption that winning a division secures a first round bye.
It also means that the top team in the NFC could end up with a tougher opponent in the first round than the No. 5 seed because the eighth-seeded wild card could very well be a better team than the NFC East winner. If the playoffs started today, the top-ranked Seahawks would have to play the Bears instead of getting a bye. The fifth-seeded Cardinals would get to play the Eagles.
It’s totally bizarre to me that the NFL has not yet added a Week 18 to the schedule, disposed of the week off between conference championship games and the Super Bowl, and kept the Super Bowl on a normal schedule. That scenario seems preferable to changing the format of the playoff picture midseason.