The National Football League announced on Tuesday that two more playoff teams could be added to the 2020 season if widespread cancellations occur due to the recent increase in COVID 19 cases. The NFL had already approved an increase from 12 to 14 teams this off-season – now to seven for the AFC and NFC.
The league held a two-hour video conference call on Tuesday to discuss contingency plans, including the move to bring another team into the playoffs for each conference, which means they would be seeded 1-8 and there would be no preliminary round matches for any teams.
“Today’s resolution is part of our contingency plan in case it is needed,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
This is what the playoffs would look like if they started with the current rankings:
No. 8 Cleveland Browns at No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 7 Miami Dolphins at No. 2 Kansas City bosses
No. 6 Las Vegas Raiders at No. 3 Buffalo Bills
No. 5 Baltimore Ravens at No. Tennessee Titans
No. 8 Chicago Bears at No. 1 New Orleans Saints
No. 7 Los Angeles Rams at No. 2 Seattle Seahawks
No. 6 Cardinals from Arizona at No. 3 Green Bay Packers
No. 5 buccaneer of Tampa Bay at No. 4 of the Philadelphia Eagles
If the NFL does not return to the schedule for the 16 team playoffs – which would mean half of the league would move into the off-season – the seeded No. 8 would be eliminated, and only those seeded to No. 1 would be eliminated in the first round of the Wild Card round.
How are the teams seeded? At each conference, the winners of the four divisions are seeded in the top four places according to their respective records. The next places go to the three or four teams with the next best records.
Goodell, however, remained firm on Tuesday that the NFL will follow a 17-week schedule with teams playing 16 games each. In this case, there would be seven playoff teams per conference, or 14 in total.
The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting, however, was to respond to a sudden rise in coronavirus cases across the country, and although more players tested positive, the NFL has not yet made a decision. In the last 10 days there has been an increase of 1 million positive cases in the country, bringing the total to more than 10 million since the outbreak began. The recent increase in cases is the fastest million case mark since the beginning of the pandemic.
During the NFL testing period last week (November 1-7), there were 56 reported positive cases among players, coaches and staff. This is a sharp increase from the 26 cases reported at the end of September, which led to the postponement of the Titans-Steelers game.
The virus also caused the postponement of three SEC college soccer games this weekend, including Alabama-LSU, Texas A&M in Auburn and Mississippi State-Auburn.