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Expanded Playoffs Now Official For NFL Going Forward

The annual March owners meetings, as they usually were conducted, were canceled a while ago because of COVID-19, but some of the business of those meetings continues remotely -- and Tuesday, NFL owners officially approved the addition of one playoff team in each conference.

It'll put seven teams in each conference in the postseason, meaning only the No. 1 seed will get a bye on Wild Card weekend. The No. 2 seed will now have to host the extra playoff team. For example, in 2015, the 13-3 Cardinals, who were the No. 2 seed behind 15-1 Carolina, would've hosted the Falcons in a postseason game before (assuming a win) meeting the Packers in the Divisional round. The 2013 Cardinals, 10-6 in Bruce Arians' first season, would've have been the extra playoff team in that year for the NFC.

Had the rule been in place this season, the Rams would have been the extra NFC team, visiting the No. 2 seed Packers. In the AFC, the Steelers -- at 8-8 -- would've visited the Chiefs.

An extra playoff game will be held both Saturday, Jan. 9, and Sunday, Jan. 10, so there will be three Wild Card games on each day (assuming the season proceeds as scheduled.) One of the extra games will be on CBS, streamed on CBS All Access, with a separate telecast tailored for a younger audience shown on Nickelodeon. The other extra game will be on NBC, NBC's streaming service Peacock, and Telemundo.

Not having a bye as a No. 2 seed could come into play; the last team to reach the Super Bowl that did not have a bye was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. Of course, there was a stretch of teams playing Wild Card weekend before that that did reach the Super Bowl regularly. In 2011 and 2010, the Giants and Packers were wild card teams that actually won the title. And the 2008 Cardinals certainly played on Wild Card weekend before getting to the biggest game.

Also interesting to note: Had you added the extra wild card teams all the way back to 1990, only one team with a losing record would have gotten in. (There were some .500 teams that would've qualified, and obviously, there have been a couple of sub.-500 division winners too.)

Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson before the snap during Super Bowl XLIII.
Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson before the snap during Super Bowl XLIII.

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