After the cancelation of the Week 17 Bengals-Bills game following Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest, the NFL released its decision on how to proceed for the rest of its regular and postseason — and not everyone is happy about it.
The league was undoubtedly put in a tough scheduling situation with no time to squeeze a replay in between the end of the regular season and playoffs, and the canceled game means two teams will finish the season having played just 16 games instead of 17.
The Bills and Bengals each only playing 16 games this season is a particular struggle as both are still in the mix to improve their playoff seed, potentially earning home field advantage or even a first-round bye. And it seems unfair for either to lose such a perk for reasons out of their control.
1. If the Bills (12-3) and Chiefs (13-3) both win or tie in Week 18 and play each other in the AFC Championship Game.
2. If the Bills (12-3) and Chiefs (13-3) both lose in Week 18, and the Ravens (10-6) either beat or tie with the Bengals (11-4), resulting in the Chiefs and Bills playing each other in the AFC Championship Game.
3. If the Bills (12-3) and Chiefs (13-3) both lose in Week 18, and the Bengals (11-4) beat the Ravens (10-6), resulting in the Chiefs and Bengals playing each other in the AFC Championship Game.
The neutral site will be determined by Roger Goodell and that will surely not stir up any controversy (sarcasm font).
These proposed changes did not receive much criticism! Sure, none of the outcomes are truly fair, but there was no truly fair option that existed.
There was some beef in the second part of the league's decision, however.
It doesn't matter if the Ravens beat the Bengals on Sunday, Cincinnati will win the AFC North by winning percentage (11-5 record vs. 11-6 record), which should, by written rules, earn them home field advantage.
But in this event, Baltimore would have beaten Cincy twice this year, and they'd possibly be snubbed hosting privileges because the Bengals played one fewer game than they did.
To solve this, the NFL has decided Ravens and Bengals would have a coin flip to see who hosts in the event they play each other next weekend. So yes, the AFC North champs could be a Wild Card road team.
Bengals executive vice president urged other commissioners to vote against the league's proposal for this decision, according to CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones, but the vote inevitably passed.
This scenario will only unfold, however, if:
1. The Ravens beat the Bengals in Week 18 AND
2. The two teams are actually scheduled to play each other in the Wild Card round.
Bengals running back Joe Mixon tweeted his dismay for the ruling as well:
That was a lot of information! And written form isn't always the easiest to comprehend.
Here's the best video explainer the internet has to offer on the potential playoff situations: