Expanding NFL playoffs could be subtraction by addition

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,Redskins,Brian McNally

Discussion is percolating that the NFL would like to expand its postseason format in the coming years. Commissioner Roger Goodell said as much last week at the owners meetings in Dallas. With playoff races in full swing entering the final two weeks of the 2012 season, only eight of the 32 teams have been eliminated. How would things look if there were an extra spot -- or even two -- in each conference?

"Sometimes that can dilute, I guess, the specialness of making it to the playoffs," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said last week. "You work so hard to get into position to make the playoffs. Now they're talking about adding more teams. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know. I kind of like the way it is right now."

For now Goodell has committed only to studying the issue. And Fletcher's doubts show the league still would have to win over the NFL Players Association and its membership. The NFL has had 12 teams qualify for the playoffs since 1990. But if the trade is a pair of preseason games for an expanded postseason tournament, which still might include less than half of the league's teams, that would be difficult for most players to turn down.

Will that dilute the product? It's cyclical. With two games left, there are already nine teams in the NFC with at least eight wins. In the AFC there are only six. Clearly in some years a sub-.500 team would sneak in. On the flip side, it almost guarantees a 10-win team isn't left sitting at home wondering what happened. That scenario could easily bite the Redskins, Giants or Cowboys this season.

- Brian McNally

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner