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NFL officially approves 14-team playoff field, Nickelodeon to televise wild card game

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been 30 years since the NFL last expanded its playoff field, and after years of speculation, this latest expansion is now official.

League owners approved a 14-team postseason effective this upcoming season, with only the NFC and AFC #1 seeds set to have a first-round bye. Everyone else plays on wild card weekend in a #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, and #4 vs. #5 format, with tripleheaders tentatively set for January 9th and 10th. I think you can figure out that there will still be the standard four division winners, but three wild card teams instead of two.

What has me amused for no particular reason at all is the fact that CBS is getting one of the extra postseason games and they’ll be doing a special “younger viewers” simulcast on NIckelodeon. Seriously.

Via ESPN:

Wild-card weekend will feature back-to-back tripleheaders on Jan. 9 and 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 also will be aired on Nickelodeon in a production geared toward a younger audience.

No word on whether or not the losing coach gets slimed. At a minimum, the halftime show needs to be the Band Geeks episode from SpongeBob SquarePants. Don’t lie to yourself, “Sweet Victory” was awesome.

Just for a fun exercise, had this been implemented this past season, the Seahawks would’ve still played the Philadelphia Eagles, but they would’ve taken on the San Francisco 49ers instead of the Green Bay Packers (who would’ve played the #7 seeded Los Angeles Rams). In case you’re wondering, the Seahawks were the #8 seed in 2017, so they still would’ve missed the playoffs under my completely hypothetical backdated expanded format.

While I’m not really for an NFL playoff expansion, please keep in mind that this is still less than half the league qualifying, so it’s not like the NBA or NHL where sub-.500 teams can often get a playoff spot and then usually get demolished in the opening round.

Under the 12-team format, every Super Bowl has had at least one team earn a first-round bye in the regular season. We’ll see how long it takes under the 14-team format for neither #1 seed to make it to the big game.