NFL Cancels Bills-Bengals Game: A Look at Updated AFC Playoff Scenarios in Week 18

NFL Cancels Bills-Bengals Game: A Look at Updated AFC Playoff Scenarios in Week 18

Cleveland Browns vs. Buffalo Bills
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The NFL made the decision to cancel Monday’s Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals days after Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field. With Hamlin recovering, the league has decided to end the regular season in Week 18 – using win percentage as the deciding criteria for seeding in the AFC playoffs.

On Friday the Owners adopted a proposal that would move the AFC Championship game to a neutral venue if any of these scenarios occur:

  • Scenario 1: If Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie in Week 18, a Buffalo-Kansas City championship game would be played at a neutral venue.
  • Scenario 2: If the Bills and Chiefs both lose in Week 18 and Baltimore wins or draws level with the Bengals, then a championship game between Buffalo and Kansas City would be played at a neutral venue.
  • Scenario 3: If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati beats Baltimore, then a championship game between the Bills or Bengals vs. Chiefs would be played at a neutral venue.

As far as seeding goes, here we are in week 18:

The Kansas City Chiefs have a win percentage of .813 as they play an extra game. The Bills have a winning percentage of .800 and the Cincinnati Bengals are at .733. The Bengals won the AFC North as a result of the cancellation and secured a top-three finish, while the Baltimore Ravens will be a wild card in the playoff standings.

While the seeding is yet to be determined, the possibility of a championship game neutral comes into play given the Chiefs’ opportunity to be the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Here are the AFC playoff scenarios for week 18:

  • Secure 1st place with a win at Raiders OR Bill’s loss to Patriots
  • If the Chiefs and Bills both win this weekend and end up clashing in the AFC Championship, the game would be played at a neutral venue
  • If the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals all lose this weekend, a Bills/Chiefs AFC Championship would be played at a neutral venue.
  • If Chiefs lose AND Bills win, Buffalo would be the 1-seed and Kansas City would be the 2-seed – and the possibility of an AFC championship game at a neutral venue would NOT exist
  • If Chiefs and Bills lose AND Bengals win, a Bills/Chiefs OR Bengals/Chiefs AFC Championship would be held at a neutral venue.

Buffalo Bills (can be the #1, #2, or #3 seed)

  • In the AFC playoffs, with a Chiefs win AND loss, secure a first-round bye AND home field advantage (an AFC championship at a neutral venue would NOT come into play in this scenario.
  • Would be 2 seed win AND Chiefs win or loss AND Bengals loss (If Bills win AND Chiefs win and they meet in the AFC Championship it would be played at a neutral venue).
  • Would be 3 seeds with loss AND Bengal’s win (Cincinnati would get the 2 seed in this scenario because they have already gained the strength of the win tiebreaker).
  • If the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals all lose this weekend, a Bills/Chiefs AFC Championship would be played at a neutral venue.

Cincinnati Bengals (Clinch AFC North, can be #2 or #3)

  • Clinch No. 2 seed with win AND Bill’s loss (Cincinnati would get the 2 seed in this scenario because it has already achieved the strength of the win tiebreaker).
  • Would be #3 seed at a loss OR Bill’s win.
  • If the Bengals lose AND they face the Ravens in the AFC Wild Card round, a coin toss would determine home field advantage. The specific scenario for this would be the Bengals losing at home to the Ravens and the Chargers winning at the Broncos.
  • If Chiefs and Bills lose AND Bengals win, a Bills/Chiefs OR Bengals/Chiefs AFC Championship would be held at a neutral venue.

Baltimore Ravens (can be #5 or #6)

  • The Ravens need a win and a loss for the Chargers to become the No. 5 pick in the AFC.
  • Would be No. 6 with a loss OR win for the Chargers.
  • If the Ravens win at the Bengals AND face Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card round, a coin toss would determine home field advantage. The specific scenario for this would be a Ravens win in Cincinnati AND a Chargers win in Denver.

Los Angeles Chargers (may be #5 or #6)

  • The Chargers need a win at the Broncos OR a loss at the Ravens to become the No. 5 pick in the AFC.
  • Win AFC South with a win OR a draw against Titans
  • Win the final #7 wildcard seed with a loss to Titans + a Steelers loss to the Browns + a Patriots loss to Bills + a Dolphins loss to Jets

Tennessee Titans (could win AFC South)

  • Win the AFC South with a win at Jaguars

New England Patriots (could win a wildcard)

  • Secure 7th place with a win at Bills OR
  • Dolphins lose to Jets + Steelers lose to Browns + Jaguars win to Titans

Miami Dolphins (could win a wild card)

  • Secure 7th place with a win against Jets AND a loss for the Patriots at Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers (could win a wild card)

  • Secure 7th place with a win over the Browns AND a Dolphins loss to Jets + a Patriots loss to Bills

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