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pakowitz 03-18-2003 11:26 PM

Report: NFL may expand playoffs

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- NFL owners might vote on a plan to expand the playoffs next season at their meetings in Phoenix, the Daily News reported Tuesday.

The playoffs would increase from six teams to seven for each conference if the plan is approved next week, the newspaper reported, citing anonymous sources. The current playoff format has been in place since 1990.

The newspaper reported that the league's competition committee discussed the issue at its meeting in Florida last week, and members were split on the idea. The News said sources indicated the playoff structure will change eventually but weren't sure when that would happen.

When the eight-division format was instituted this past season, commissioner Paul Tagliabue and other top officials said the NFL most likely would use the playoff system for several years to see if there were inequities to be addressed. He said at the time that change, if any, was several years away.

With seven teams, the newspaper said, only the No. 1 seeds in each conference would get first-round byes -- instead of two under the current format. The other teams would play in the wild-card round.

The newspaper also reported that owners probably will turn down a plan to change overtime rules. The proposal would guarantee each team at least one possession.

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