The NFL is gearing up for a normal season and playoffs — with two additional wild-card teams in the Super Bowl chase.
NFL team owners voted Tuesday to expand the playoffs by one team in each conference for a total of 14 next season as they continue to plan for the 2020 season to begin on time.
During a conference call to discuss league business after the annual meetings were canceled due to the new coronavirus, 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, and the vote was unanimous, football operations chief Troy Vincent said.
Contingencies are being discussed for all potential interruptions caused by the coronavirus.
As for the first expansion of the postseason field since 1990, when the NFL went from 10 qualifiers to 12, only the teams with the best record in the AFC and NFC will get a bye under the new format; the top two teams in each conference skipped wild-card weekend in the past. The seventh seed will play No. 2, the sixth will visit No. 3 and the fifth will be at the fourth seed for wild-card games.
Three games are set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9-10 — pending the NFL schedule going forward as planned; that schedule likely will be released on May 9, according to Brian Rolapp, the league’s chief media and business officer, to give the NFL “flexibility.”
CBS will broadcast one of the new games on Jan. 10 at approximately 4:40 p.m. EST. The game will also be available via live stream on CBS All Access. A separately produced telecast of the game tailored for a younger audience will air on Nickelodeon.
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. EST.