NFL could expand playoff field to 14 teams as early as 2014 season

NFL could expand playoff field to 14 teams as early as 2014 season
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during a news conference at the conclusion of the league's annual meeting Wednesday in Orlando, Fla. Goodell says he thinks "there's a tremendous amount of interest" in expanding the NFL postseason. (John Raoux / Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. — There is a good chance the NFL will expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, and the change could come as early as the upcoming season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking Wednesday at the conclusion of the league's annual meetings, said there was a "full discussion" on the topic among team owners and executives this week.


"I think there's a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support, but there are also things we still want to make sure we do it right," Goodell said. "We've been very incremental in trying to do this, but we believe competitively it could make even our races toward the end of our season even more exciting with more teams vying for playoff positions, which is great for our fans. We still want to do some additional work, including talking with the players association."

The NFL and the NFL Players Assn. will meet April 8, and Goodell said he anticipates playoff expansion being among the topics of discussion.

As for how soon a change could be implemented, he didn't rule out it happening for the 2014 season.

"It's not out of the question," he said, "but we didn't make that decision at all. We have more work to do. I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't say that's the direction we're headed right now."

Back, back, back

Looking to make the extra-point kick more challenging, the New England Patriots proposed moving the line of scrimmage back to the 25 for that play. Although the league isn't ready to do that, owners did agree to bump the line of scrimmage back to the 20 for all games in the first two weeks of the exhibition season, turning what is otherwise a "gimme" play into a 37-yard field goal. A two-point conversion attempt will continue to be set up on the two-yard line.

"The [competition] committee was concerned about a rule being implemented without having the opportunity to go through the unintended consequences," said St. Louis Rams Coach Jeff Fisher, a committee member. "We all feel like we need to do something, we're just not quite sure what we are going to do with it yet."

Check the rulebook

Three rule changes were passed:

• The goal-post uprights will be extended by five feet to make it easier to determine whether high kicks are good.

• The recovery of a loose ball in the field of play is now a reviewable call. Under the old rules, even if officials blew the call on who recovered the ball, they couldn't go back and look at the tape.

• The game clock now will keep running after a quarterback sack outside of two minutes remaining in the first half or the game.

Four proposed changes got the thumbs down, including the proposal to move the line of scrimmage on PATs back to the 25. Also rejected: making all plays subject to instant-replay review; a bid to move kickoffs to the 40, and allowing an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster.

Tabled for further discussion were the proposals to scrub overtime in exhibition games, expand practice squads from eight to 10 players, allow teams to open their roof during halftime for weather reasons, and add cameras to all goal lines, sidelines and end lines.