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Is time right to expand NFL playoffs?

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer scrambles against the

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer scrambles against the Detroit Lions during the second half. (Sept. 15, 2013) Credit: AP

The time might be right for adding two more playoff teams in the NFL.

Though the league has toyed with the idea in recent years but never acted on it, there appears to be increasing momentum for adding two more playoff teams.

NFL president Mark Murphy, a member of the league's influential competition committee, said his group discussed adding one wild-card team for each conference. The committee met at this week's scouting combine, and will have additional meetings in Naples, Fla., leading up to next month's owners meetings in Orlando.

"We're still in a discussion phase, but I think it's something that people are looking seriously at," Murphy said. "It's still less than 50 percent of the teams making the playoffs -- 14 out of 32. You have to be careful. You still want to be something that's earned. I think with still having a No. 1 seed that has a bye week, there's a lot for teams to play for at the end of the season."

Adding a third wild card per conference would also put more teams into the playoff mix late in the season.

"There would be more teams in contention, and you might have some more excitement," he said.

But what about the possibility that teams with losing records would make the playoffs? According to Murphy, those concerns might not be as problematic as you'd think.

"We looked over the last 10 years on what would happen if we had seven [playoff] teams from each conference," he said. "There would have been six 8-8 teams, eight 9-7 teams, five 10-6 teams and one 11-5 team that would have been seventh seeds."

In other words, no teams with a losing record would have made the playoffs if there was an added playoff team over the past 10 seasons. Only one team in NFL history -- the 7-9 Seahawks in 2010 -- has made the playoffs with a losing record, but did it as a division winner, not a wild card.

New York Sports