NFL team owners voted Tuesday to add two more teams to the league playoffs starting with the 2020 season, according to a posting on the league's website.
The decision came during a conference call involving NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and club owners, a move required after the annual league meeting was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the plan, the American and National conferences will each add a seventh team for the post-season, with only the top seed having a first-round bye instead of the top two clubs as under the previous format.
Making the change required approval from three-quarters of the NFL's 32 team owners.
There will now be three first-round games on January 9, the opening Saturday of the playoffs, with three more the next day. Top seeds will meet the lowest remaining seed in each conference in second-round games.
A new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its players union allowed for the playoff expansion.
According to the NFL, since the playoffs jumped from 10 to 12 teams in 1990, 44 of 60 clubs that would have been in the seventh spots had winning records, while only the 1990 Dallas Cowboys would have made the post-season with a losing record under the new format.
The move means 43.7% of all NFL clubs will reach the playoffs compared to only 33.3% of Major League Baseball clubs, 51.6% of National Hockey League teams and 53.3% of NBA clubs.