Bills Playoff Scenarios; Buffalo Loses Bye Week if Chiefs Win
The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will not resume their week 17 game, as the NFL made that official late on Thursday night, ahead of the week 18 games.
The game was officially cancelled and that came as no surprise to NFL fans, since the speculation was that would be the case ever since late Wednesday night, when Pro Football Talk reported that's the way things were looking.
The game was postponed after the cardiac arrest suffered by Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, although he is now awake and doctors say he looks to be neurologically intact, which is remarkable and tremendous news.
However, what we did not know before now is what the playoff seeding and scenarios would look like. The Bills and Bengals playing one less game complicates things and the league does not want too many competitive disadvantages.
The league sent out a memo that details what happens, based on week 18 outcomes.
No team will be impacted who is fighting for a playoff spot and no delay in the playoffs, which the league did not want.
The biggest takeaway is that a neutral site AFC Championship game looks much more likely now.
If the Chiefs and/or Bills and Bengals meet in the AFC title game, that will be played at a neutral field. The Ravens also have a scenario where they could have the AFC title game be played at a neutral site field.
However, the Bills will not get the playoff bye week if the Chiefs beat the Raiders on Saturday.
The league has incentivized the week 18 games for the Bills, Chiefs, Bengals and Ravens.
One thing is crystal clear for Bills fans. They will not be going back to Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship game. If the Bills and Chiefs both make it, which is very probable if they're the 1 and 2 seeds, that game will be played at a neutral site.
The Bills path to the 1 seed is a win over the Patriots Sunday and a loss by the Chiefs on Saturday. That seems a little unfair, since the Bills did control their own destiny for the 1 seed before Monday night, but understand that no situation the league considered was perfect.
If the Chiefs don't make the AFC Championship game and the Bills do, Buffalo hosts the AFC Championship game.
The Bills can drop to the 3 seed if the Bengals win on Sunday, and the Bills and Chiefs both lose.
What's most fascinating is the Ravens at Bengals game.
If the Ravens win and the Chargers beat the Broncos, that means both teams face one another in the Wild Card round and since the Ravens never got a fair chance to win the AFC North after the cancelled Bills-Bengals game, a coin flip will determine where that game is played: Baltimore or Cincinnati.
It's a lot to unpack but one thing is clear, the NFL did not want to give one team an unfair advantage or disadvantage. It's unfortunate the Bills can't get the bye with a Chiefs win, but considering the talk the Bills would just have to live with it earlier in the week, this is definitely not the worst outcome for Buffalo fans.