2021 NFL Playoffs: The Expansion of Teams

Take it to the corner: The New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional rivalry in 2019. Photo courtesy of Oliver Ardrey.

Take it to the corner: The New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional rivalry in 2019. Photo courtesy of Oliver Ardrey.

Oliver Ardrey and Kyle Zarnoch

     This has been a crazy year for sports and as the NFL playoffs start, here is everything you need to know about the changes in the expansion of teams, new rules, and the new bracket.

     This year, the NFL has decided to implement a new playoff format. For many years, just 12 teams have been allowed but this year there will be 14 teams competing for the Vince Lombardi trophy. This 14 team playoff has been in the making for many years.    

     Robert Wainman, a senior at Foran, says, ¨I am very excited to see the new changes and the way they affect the playoffs… I am a very big Buffalo Bills fan and it looks good this year in regards to the playoffs; especially with the fact that they are letting one more team into the playoffs this year.¨ The NFL fans that are comfortable with this change bring up another good point, these rules give their favorite team a better chance to make it into the playoffs if needed. 

     One of the reasons the NFL pulled the trigger on making the playoff bracket larger was because of the possibility for a ton of money. According to an ESPN article titled, “NFL playoff expansion to 14 teams: Everything you need to Know”, in 2019 the wild card games for the playoffs had an average of 30.5 million streams. The NFL looks to have a higher annual income from the NFL playoffs; they added two more wild card games which will undoubtedly mean more money for the league and its teams.

The New York Jets take on the Buffalo Bills in a home game at Metlife Stadium. Photo Courtesy of Robert Wainman.

  In that same article by ESPN, changing the playoffs will boost the leagues revenue by nine figures annually. This will also provide better job security for NFL coaches, as this expansion allows more teams to be satisfied with their outcome, which means less people will be fired.

     With the new changes of the playoffs the bracket has been affected greatly in regards to the essential first-round byes. Previously in years the first and second seed in each conference were granted a free pass to the next week which is also known as a bye week. But this year we see the format change to only the first seed getting a bye which means the importance of being the top seed is at an all time high. Life-long Philadelphia Eagles fan, and junior, Trey Deitelbaum said this about the importance of the top seed now after the changes: ¨I believe this will allow more competition from the higher seeds as we move deeper into the playoffs, too often we see good teams give up later in the year because they have already clinched the top seed.¨

     Wainman and Deitelbaum agree this is a good change for the league and it opens up space for the teams to grow. With that, the National Football League playoffs are set to kick off on January 9 and looks to have yet another successful season.