The recently-passed CBA has cleared the way for a 14-team NFL playoff format, with seven teams being sent from both conferences; the seventh team being a third wild card spot.
A plan that could open the door for an entire division to make the playoffs.
In the meantime, here is a look at the last decade of seventh-seeded teams, along with a simulation of their first-round playoff game against the two-seed from their conference.
The simulations will be conducted on whatifsports.com, and simulations will only concern playoff matchups in real life. If the two-seed wins the simulation, the playoffs will continue as normal. If the seven-seed can pull the upset, any new playoff matchups will be simulated until a winner is crowned or the remaining matchups were played in real life.
Disclaimer: The simulation is conducted with players that were primary starters at their position. There is a chance that the games could include players who were no longer the starter in January.
The number of articles per team is contingent on how well the seven-seeds do in the simulation. If a seven seed loses, there will only be one game covered in that conference. However, if a seven seed goes on a magical run (or even just wins one game to blow up the original bracket), many parts will be published.
The simulation will begin in 2019 with the Steelers playing the Chiefs in Part I and the Rams playing the Packers in Part II.
Oddly enough, the 2018 simulation will also include the Steelers as the Tomlin-era Steelers have a knack for narrowly missing the playoffs when they don’t get in. The 2018 simulation will have the Vikings representing the NFC as the seven-seed.
2017 introduces chaos, as there was a tie in both conferences. In the AFC, the Ravens are given the nod over the Chargers based on a superior conference record. In the NFC, the Lions take precedence over the Seahawks and Cowboys.
Heading back to 2016, the 2015 quarterback class gets a boost as the Mariota-led Titans and Winston-led Buccaneers sneak into the playoffs.
Another long playoff drought is snapped in 2015, as the Jets slide their way into the AFC playoffs. The NFC’s seventh seed would be the Falcons, who famously started 5-0, lost seven of their next nine, then stunned the 14-0 Panthers in Week 16.
In 2014, the Texans beat out the Chiefs, Chargers, and Bills to the final playoff spot, and the Eagles make the NFC playoffs.
2013 sees a return of the Steelers. as they edge out the Ravens, Jets, and Dolphins at 8-8. The 10-6 Cardinals make the NFC playoffs.
For the fourth time in the simulation, the Steelers nab an extra playoff berth, as the 2012 Steelers five the AFC North three postseason representatives. In a nearly identical path, the Bears become the third NFC North team to make the playoffs.
In 2011, the Bears add another playoff appearance, beating out the Cardinals, Eagles, and Cowboys at 8-8. The Titans make the AFC playoffs at 9-7.
2010 will add the 9-7 San Diego Chargers, who led the NFL in total offense and total defense. They were immortalized by the incomparable Jon Bois. On the other side are the 10-6 Giants, who beat out the 10-6 Josh Freeman-led Buccaneers.
As the teams are included in the simulation, links will be connected here, so be sure to check back often.