Should the NFL Expand the Number of Playoff Teams?

Ronald Martinez

The 2002 Cleveland Browns made the postseason with a 9-7 record under head coach Butch Davis. Since 1999, that is the only post-expansion team to have made the NFL playoffs in Cleveland. The 2007 Browns came actually finished with one more win at 10-6, but did not make the playoffs.

That brings us to the topic of playoff expansion, which seems to be gaining traction and something that is inevitably going to happen, whether fans like it or not, some time over the next few years. The most likely scenario would increase the playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams, meaning that 1 additional team would make it from each conference.

If that had been in effect in 2007, the Browns would have made the postseason, with guys like Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards having the opportunity to make legends out of themselves. Instead, their careers faded into the abyss after the 2008 season. When asked about playoff expansion at the NFL owners meetings last week, here is what Commissioner Roger Goodell said:

On potentially expanding the playoffs and what are the next steps: "We had a good discussion on it on several fronts. As you know, the Competition Committee has been looking at this for a couple of years. We have discussed it in various committees, including broadcasting. We had a full discussion on the floor with the owners and other 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.

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. We have a scheduled meeting set for April 8. This will be one of the things we’ll probably discuss and then we’ll also have to talk to broadcast partners and there are some scheduling issues that we still need to work through."

On if it could happen for 2014, 2015 or 2016: "It’s not out of the question, 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 heading right now."

The NFL is such a popular product that they could get away with adjusting the playoff teams. Personally, I'd like to see it remain as it is, even if that reduces the chances of a team like the Browns -- who typically aren't in the playoff hunt -- from reaching the postseason. I like how the NFL really ensures that the cream-of-the-crop teams get into the playoffs, aside from a few poor divisions every so often. What do you think, Browns fans?

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