Expanded playoff field among NFL proposals

The NFL will consider 13 playing rules proposals and seven bylaws this week in Orlanda, Fla., including expanding the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, although a vote on such a move is uncertain.

Some changes would seem to be slam dunks: extending the height of the goal posts 5 feet; eliminating overtime in preseason games; placing fixed TV cameras on the goal lines, end lines and sidelines to help with replay reviews.

Others seem almost sidebars to the real action, such as from where to enforce defensive penalties when they occur behind the line of scrimmage, or extending pass interference calls to within a yard of the line.

Perhaps the juiciest suggestions came from the Patriots. They want to move the line of scrimmage to the 25 for extra points, and to allow coaches to challenge any calls except on scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed.



OBITUARY: Mickey Duff, the celebrated British boxing manager and promoter, died Saturday in London of natural causes. He was 84.

The Poland-born Duff, who moved to England in the late 1930s, won 61 of 69 professional fights before retiring from the ring at the age of 19. He went on to manage 16 world champions.


SONY OPEN: Andy Murray advanced to the fourth round by beating Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-1 in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Roger Federer also advanced easily, beating qualifier Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-3.


In women’s play, American CoCo Vandeweghe earned a Monday shot at top-ranked Serena Williams in the fourth round by beating 2011 U.S. Open champ Samantha Stosur 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in a match that ended at 2:29 a.m. Sunday.

Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who withdrew from the Sony Open on Wednesday, will undergo surgery on his left wrist Monday and is expected to be sidelined for at least several months.


WORLD CUP: Kaisa Makarainen of Finland clinched the women’s title in Oslo, Norway, after coming seventh in the season’s concluding mass start, while Frenchman Martin Fourcade won the men’s event to take a greater lead in the standings.


MILAN-SAN REMO: Alexander Kristoff became the first Norwegian to win the Italian one-day race, edging out 2008 winner Fabian Cancellara on a wet and rainy course for the biggest win of his career.



ALLROUND CHAMPIONSHIPS: Ireen Wust and Koen Verweij of the Netherlands won the women’s and men’s speedskating titles in Heerenveen, Netherlands, completing a standout year for the Dutch team.


WORLD CUP: Olympic champion Marielle Thompson of Canada clinched the freestyle skicross title in La Plagne, France, by winning the season’s last event.

Thompson beat world champion Fanny Smith of Switzerland in the final. Georgia Simmerling of Canada took third and Sandra Naeslund of Sweden placed fourth.

Thompson gained her second crystal globe after also winning in 2012. She finished the season 25 points clear of Smith.

– From news service reports

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