It’s been roughly 30 years since the NFL adopted its 16-game schedule and 12-team playoff format. As early as this upcoming season, that could all start changing.
According to reports, there’s a growing likelihood that any new collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players would significantly alter the postseason structure. If the CBA is ratified before the start of the 2020 season, the NFL would immediately move forward under this new format.
The proposal owners are pushing for would add an extra playoff team to each conference, raising the total of postseason spots from 12 to 14. Additionally, only one team in either conference would receive a bye week in the first round of the playoffs.
This revised format would include six games on Wild Card weekend as opposed to the current number of four games. Three games would be played on both Saturday and Sunday.
Under the current CBA, the players on teams that earned first-round byes do not receive playoff pay in the first round of the playoffs. According to reports, that would change under the new agreement.
While this sweeping change to the postseason format has reportedly been agreed to, the NFL and the NFL Players Association are still yet to agree on other issues, and this playoff change would not take effect until the new CBA is finalized.
Owners Still Pushing for 17 Games
One of the biggest issues still yet to be agreed upon between the owners and players is the proposal to move to a 17-game schedule. If eventually agreed to, this change would not take effect until 2021 at the earliest.
Under the proposal, the additional regular season contest would replace one of the four preseason games each team plays.
From the perspective of the players, an additional game would put more physical stress on bodies that are already battered throughout a 16-game schedule. To make up for this additional hardship, the owners are reportedly willing to give up more revenue share.
As it currently stands, the players receive a 47% revenue share of the NFL. Under the deal currently on the table, that share would rise to 48% on a 16-game schedule. If the players agree to a 17-game schedule, they will receive 48.5% of the revenue share.
If agreed upon, the new deal could shift approximately $5 billion of revenue over to the players’ side.
Of course, none of these proposed changes will take effect until the entire CBA is agreed upon and ratified. According to reports, no term sheet is on the table at this point.
How New Playoff Format Could Change Betting Odds
Generally speaking, there’s been a cutoff between the top two seeds in a conference and the rest of the playoff field once the postseason is set when it comes to Super Bowl odds. Why? Because those top two seeds have received a bye week, meaning it would take them one fewer win to reach the Super Bowl.
So, when the Patriots lost to Miami in Week 17 and allowed the Chiefs to claim the second seed, New England’s odds of winning the Super Bowl fell significantly while Kansas City’s odds improved.
Under the new format in which only the top seed in either conference would earn a bye week, that cutoff would now likely be placed between the top seed and the rest of the playoff field.
Keep that in mind as the season comes to a close if we do indeed shift to a 14-team field.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the current favorite to win next season’s Super Bowl is Kansas City, with odds of +650. They’re trailed closely by Baltimore, who owns odds of +700.
The leading candidate from the NFC is San Francisco, which currently owns odds of +900 to win the Super Bowl.