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Roger Goodell says NFL "likely" to expand playoffs at some point

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said recently that the NFL playoffs will "likely" expand at some point.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs are always exciting, and last year was no exception.  There were a number of thrilling finishes and games that took place, and the NFL may choose to expand the playoffs sometime in the near future to create even more matchups.

Recently, while speaking at a Jaguars season ticket holders meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that it's "likely" that the playoffs will expand at some point.  Here's what Goodell said, according to NFL.com:

"It's a tough one.  And the reason I say that is it works so well right now. We have 12 teams that qualify for the playoffs and what it does is it's not just the number of teams in the playoffs, it's what it does to our regular season. I think that's what makes the NFL great is every game means so much. That game means a great deal. You don't ever want to lose that. You don't want to lose the fact that every regular-season game is important. And only having 12 teams qualify, which is the smallest of any of the professional leagues by far, that's a good thing for us ...

"Could you do it? Yes, you could do it. From a competitive standpoint, our competition committee said 'we think we can do it properly.' We're still looking at the broadcasting side of it and then there's a labor-relations side of it too, which you have to deal with with the union. But it will continue to get discussion.

"(It) likely will happen at some point, but we want to be really cautious because we really like the balance we have with the importance of the regular season and the postseason and you don't want to mess with that balance. You have to be really careful and cautious."

Money talks, and the potential to add a couple of additional playoff games could be something that the NFL owners want to do at some point.  At the same time, however, the league has to be careful not to dilute their playoff tournament - as, after all, we still sometimes have some teams making the playoffs who aren't great.  Sure, there are teams that miss out on the postseason every year, but as Goodell noted, that emphasizes the regular season more as teams value every week in trying to make the playoffs.

Currently, the NFL playoffs includes 12 games, so the most likely expansion would be to 14 teams - which would add two wild card games for the first weekend of the postseason.  There are other issues that would come into play in the discussion, as Goodell noted.  On the broadcast side of things, the NFL would need to figure out the contracts and rights to air the additional games.  On the NFLPA side of things, the league would need to find a common ground - perhaps something such as decreasing the length of the preseason in order to add a couple of playoff teams.

Ultimately, it sounds like playoff expansion will be coming at some point for the NFL, but before that, they still need to figure out some of the details of how to make it work.