Updated AFC Playoff Picture with Bills vs. Bengals Canceled

Updated AFC Playoff Picture with Bills vs. Bengals Canceled article feature image

Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow.

The health of Damar Hamlin has been at the front of everyone's minds, particularly at the NFL offices, which is why there has not been an official decision on the status of the Bills vs. Bengals game.

As we head into Week 18, the game could significantly influence the AFC playoff picture.

Adam Schefter believes the NFL will not look to resume the Bengals vs. Bill game and that league is working towards either a potential neutral site AFC Championship game or 1 seed choosing between getting having a bye or home field with 2 seed getting whatever not picked. pic.twitter.com/MKnRLcRGNQ

— The Comeback (@thecomeback) January 5, 2023

Pro Football Talk and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Thursday a diminishing likelihood that the game will be played. Thus, ideas have begun to be thrown around on how to handle seeding for the AFC Playoffs with the Bills and Bengals only playing 17 games.

"Winning percentage becomes the most obvious method," PFT's Mike Florio wrote in a recent update." But there are concerns about equity, given that the winner of the Bills-Bengals game would have been in position to be one of the top AFC seeds."

There are a few options that have been thrown out by those with knowledge of the NFL's discussions:

  • Expand the playoff to eight teams. This would remove the first-round bye advantage, which likely could have been decided by the Bills vs. Bengals game. Florio believes both the AFC and NFC would have to expand to eight teams which would have to be approved by the NFLPA.
  • Schefter laid out an idea from Matt Hasselback that would rule the Bengals vs. Bills game as a tie. The No. 1 seed would then have to decide between home-field advantage and a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed getting whatever is not chosen.
  • There is also a possibility of making the AFC Championship a neutral site game. This would be deemed fair in the event the teams playing in the AFC Championship are the Bills, Bengals or Chiefs. If it includes a team outside of those three, there is no need for a neutral site.

If there continues to be positive news reported on Hamlin's health, the NFL could make a decision soon.

AFC Standings

  1. Chiefs 13-3 (1st in AFC West)
  2. Bills 13-2 (1st in AFC East)
  3. Bengals 11-4 (1st in AFC North)
  4. Jaguars 8-8 (1st in AFC South)
  5. Chargers 10-6 (Clinched Wild Card)
  6. Ravens 10-6 (Clinched Wild Card)
  7. Patriots 8-8
  8. Dolphins 8-8
  9. Steelers 8-8
  10. Jets 7-9
  11. Titans 7-9
  12. Browns 7-9
  13. Raiders 6-10
  14. Colts 4-11-1
  15. Broncos 4-12
  16. Texans 2-13-1

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