Owner Steve Bisciotti and Head Coach John Harbaugh both support the move to expand the playoff pool from 12 teams to 14.
Bisciotti indicated that the planning stages are already underway, making it seem as if the change is inevitable.
“I’m in favor of it,” he said. “We’re working now, the competition committee and the broadcast committee, figuring out exactly how you would place those games. So that’s more of the issue. I think it’s showing that most owners would be in favor of the additions.”
Bisciotti is a man who does his research, and he knows the numbers. Enlarging the playoff pool by two more teams means that 44 percent of teams in the league will make the playoffs instead of 38.
In the NBA and NHL, more than 50 percent of the teams make the postseason. The MLB is at 33 percent, already expanded by two teams in 2012 and could add more.
A key argument for expansion is that it creates more interest around the country because more teams are in the hunt to make the postseason.
Among the main arguments against it, other than from players who don’t want extra games and chances for injury, is that it could water down the competition level in the playoffs.
But Bisciotti rightly pointed out that two of the past four Super Bowl winners were wild-card teams (2010 Green Bay Packers and 2011 New York Giants). The 2000 Ravens were a wild-card team when they won Super Bowl XXXV.
“That is proof to me that you’re not diluting the product by adding two teams that may have won those last three games at 6-7 and get to 9-7,” Bisciotti said. “They can make some noise in the playoffs. I’m all for it. I think we can work it into our schedule.”
Harbaugh spoke a day after Bisciotti and supported that choice as well.
“I think Steve is right about that,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be good for the game. It’s good for players, good for fans. It’s going to be exciting.”
Bisciotti isn’t stopping at playoff expansion either. He’d like to see the preseason shortened. There’s a thought that in order to not add more games to players’ schedules, there could be more playoff games added but less preseason.
“Hopefully it prompts us to maybe look at reducing the preseason, which aren’t exactly hand-in-hand, but I think we’re trending in that vein and I’d like to see that too,” he said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league had a “good discussion” with owners and other executives this week, but they have yet to make a determination.
He said he wouldn’t rule out expansion coming in 2014, but that’s not the direction they’re headed as of now.
“I think there’s a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly to the point of support,” Goodell said. “But there are also things we still want to make sure we do right. We’ve been very incremental in trying to do this, both complete and tentatively.”
Goodell said there is a meeting scheduled for April 8 with the NFL Players Association and the NFL also needs to work out with its broadcast partners when the extra playoff games would be scheduled.