Meanwhile, a larger field would put more teams in legitimate playoff competition as the season climaxes. It would also decrease the impact of a poor start and late-season injuries that might slow a team's momentum. Both factors would, in theory, increase fan excitement and attention late in the season in the form of television ratings, attendance and other football-related purchases.
3. How much additional revenue will the NFL receive?
The league's largely private financial reports, combined with less-tangible ancillary value, make this estimation difficult.
Revenues from a home game vary per stadium, but the estimated range is between $5 million and $10 million per game. Assume the higher end for the postseason. So for two extra games a year, the NFL could generate up to $20 million in new revenue from stadium-related sales alone.
Most of that total would be absorbed and shared by the NFL, per league postseason policy. (The league pays home teams a stipend to cover operational costs that normally would be paid for from stadium revenue.)
The great unknown, at least outside the NFL's internal bubble, is how much the league could ultimately conjure from broadcasters for the right to air two more games from a historic ratings bonanza last season. According to the NFL, the four wild-card games from 2013 averaged a record 34.7 million viewers. Fox's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers drew 47.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched telecast over an 11-month period. The wild-card round also produced the four most-watched shows on television that week.
How will that popularity be monetized? Let the bidding begin, and prepare for it to cost tens of millions of dollars.
4. How much extra money would players make?
Additional compensation would come in two forms. First, players on the two seventh seeds would, according to the collective bargaining agreement, earn $22,000 for participating in a 2014 wild-card game. That's a total of at least $2.332 million in new playoff bonuses. If byes for the No. 2 seeds are eliminated, as expected, players on those teams would earn $24,000 each during wild-card weekend for a total of at least $2.544 million more.
Second, proceeds from the media rights would be added to the revenue pool used to calculate the NFL salary cap. According to the CBA, 45 percent of revenues from NFL Ventures/Postseason are directed into cap. The higher the revenue total, the higher the salary cap goes.
5. Could playoff expansion bring any corresponding changes?
Last fall, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the possibility of a trade-off: an expanded playoffs in exchange for eliminating a week of the preseason. That option hasn't been a primary focus of conversation, but it could become a leverage chip in negotiations with the NFL Players Association. The only people who would protest a shorter preseason are coaches who want to see their backup players get game-speed experience.
At least one owner has publicly acknowledged the likelihood of an eventual exchange. In March, the Baltimore Ravens' Steve Bisciotti told theMMQB.com that playoff expansion could "prompt us to maybe look at reducing the preseason" and added that "I think we're trending in that vein."