The NFL is still trying to figure out how to proceed after Damar Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest led to the postponement of Monday night’s Bills-Bengals game, a matchup between two AFC heavyweights that is having serious playoff implications.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in a conference call Wednesday that the game won’t be played this week, but “everything else is being considered.” These include resuming play next week after the regular season wraps up this weekend and delaying the start of the playoffs, eliminating the idle week before the Super Bowl to have extra time for that game, or eliminating the game altogether as a no Contest.
ProFootballTalk discussed a concept for expanding the AFC and NFC playoff fields from seven to eight teams to alleviate the challenge of determining a top seed in the AFC should Bills-Bengals not be played. The addition of an eighth playoff team in each conference was not discussed, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said during a conference call Thursday, but that would require additional negotiations to ensure the eighth-team players and the teams that received one , a goodbye by being the No. 1 seed, they got some extra pay.
If the NFL were to expand the playoffs for this season, three teams not currently in the playoffs (the Jets in the AFC, the Commanders and Saints in the NFC) would have another postseason shot.
Here’s a closer look at how things might break out.
Current playoff teams
As Week 18 begins, there are 11 NFL teams that have already secured a playoff berth in the seven-team postseason format. That would remain so even if the NFL expanded the field to eight teams in each conference:
Earned a spot in the playoffs
Earned a spot in the playoffs
There are eight other teams in the current postseason format battling for three remaining playoff spots: the Jaguars, Patriots, Dolphins, Steelers, and Titans for two AFC spots, and the Seahawks, Lions, and Packers for one NFC spot.
New eligible teams in 8-team playoff format
If the NFL postseason format were expanded to eight teams from each conference, three teams previously eliminated in the seven-team format would have a chance to earn a playoff spot this weekend:
- Commanders (7-8-1)
- Saints (7-9)
That would mean there would now be a total of 11 teams battling for five unclaimed playoff spots: six AFC teams are battling for three spots, and five NFC teams are battling for two spots.
Chances for a place in the playoffs in 8-team format
Below are the odds for each of these 11 teams to earn a playoff spot in an expanded eight-team postseason format. The odds are over the athlete‘s betting model created by Austin Mock.
Chances for a place in the AFC playoffs in the 8-team format
Odds to get an NFC playoff spot in 8-team format
(Photo: Ken Blaze / USA Today)
https://theathletic.com/4062110/2023/01/05/bills-bengals-nfl-playoffs-eight-teams/ Potential impact on extended NFL playoffs: Jets, Commanders, Saints back in mix