NFL owners vote to approve expanded 14-team playoff format

2:09 PM ET

  • Kevin SeifertESPN Staff Writer

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    • ESPN.com national NFL writer
    • ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
    • Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008

NFL team owners formally approved a plan Tuesday to expand the postseason to 14 teams, beginning with the 2020 season.

During a conference call to discuss league business after the annual meetings were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the owners also awarded one of those extra games to CBS and one to NBC. Three-fourths of the 32 owners needed to approve the change.

The new format changes prior league practice in two ways:

• There will be a total of three wild-card teams per conference, up from two.

• The No. 2 seed in each conference will host the new No. 7 seed in the wild-card round, meaning that only the No. 1 seeds will have first-round byes.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell began considering the idea nearly 10 years ago, and the league appeared on the brink of adopting a similar plan in 2014. Ultimately, the idea was put on hold until after owners and players completed a new collective bargaining agreement earlier this month.

Wild-card weekend will feature back-to-back tripleheaders on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10, according to the league. CBS will broadcast one of the new games, scheduled for a 4:40 p.m. ET kickoff on Jan. 10, and it will be streamed on CBS All Access. That game will also be aired on Nickelodeon in a production geared toward a younger audience.

NBC, its new streaming service Peacock and Spanish-language Telemundo will broadcast the other new game on Jan. 10 at approximately 8:15 p.m. ET.

The NFL last expanded its playoffs in 1990, increasing from 10 to 12 teams.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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