Two Options the NFL Has for the Bills-Bengals Game
The football world stopped on Monday night, just before 9 pm during the Buffalo Bills at the Cincinnati Bengals game ay Paycor Stadium.
Bills' safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after a tackle and had his heartbeat restored on the field. He remains at the ICU in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Hamlin's family told ESPN's Coley Harvey that progress was made during the overnight from Tuesday into Wednesday, which is promising news.
The NFL world, along with the entire country has offered love, support and prayers for Hamlin and his family. The outpouring of support from players teams and those on social media has been nothing short of amazing
The Bills and Bengals were back at their team facilities on Wednesday, as the Bills conducted a walkthrough, as they now prepare for their week 18 game vs. the New England Patriots at Highmark Stadium.
The NFL announced on Tuesday that the Bills-Bengals game would not be played this week and that no determination has been made, regarding its future after that.
The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday morning that the NFL is exploring all options, but two seem to be what they're determining between right now.
The first option is the NFL essentially cancels the game, or gives both team a tie. That would mean both teams play one less game than the 30 other NFL teams and the Kansas City Chiefs would have a chance to clinch the AFC's one seed by default on Saturday, against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The second option is create a week 19, which the NFL did have in its back pocket as a last-resort during 2020's COVID-19 year. They would push back the playoffs a week and then eliminate one of the two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
It would obviously be unfair to both the Bills and Bengals, in regards to the standings. The Chiefs would get to play one extra game and get the conference's one seed to no fault of their own.
However, logistics would be something to consider with the week 19 option, which would involve a lot of moving parts, including the rest of the league getting an unexpected bye week.
If that week 19 decision is made, the Bengals could be playing for absolutely nothing. If the Chiefs win on Saturday against the Raiders, the Bengals would be out of the race for the one-seed and could decide to rest starters against the Bills; since the 2 vs. 3 seed is not nearly as important to teams and coaches.
The Bills in that scenario would play their starters and not get a bye week, which in all likelihood, the team they play the next week (assuming they don't win and don't get the one seed), would get a week of rest going into a playoff game against Buffalo.
If the NFL ultimately decides to cancel that Bills-Bengals game, then we very well could see the Bills rest starters against thee Patriots for week 18, assuming the Chiefs beat the Raiders and lock up the one seed.
The Bills would only be playing for 2 vs. 3 and Sean McDermott may decide getting his players more physical and mental rest would be beneficial.
They could also decide to split up the one-seed benefits, where one team gets a bye week and the other gets homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They could also make the AFC Championship a neutral site game, if the 1 and 2 seeds make it that far.
Those scenarios seem unlikely.
We will see what the NFL decides to do, but whatever they do, a decision has to be made soon.