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Momentum builds for cancellation of Bills-Bengals game

Mike Florio and Chris Simms describe the challenges of other players, coaching staffs and fans trying to grapple with witnessing the Damar Hamlin injury and how to balance eventually looking ahead to Week 18.

The NFL is moving toward solving the problem arising from the postponement of the Week 17 game between the Bills and Bengals.

Current momentum is pointing toward not resuming the Bills-Bengals game, and declaring it a no contest. Playoff seeding then would be determined based on the outcome of the Week 18 games.

This means that the Chiefs would capture the No. 1 seed by beating the Raiders on Saturday. The Bills would become the top seed by beating the Patriots on Sunday, if the Chiefs lose on Saturday.

A Bills loss and a Bengals win over the Ravens on Sunday would vault Cincinnati into the No. 2 seed, with the Bengals securing eclipsing the Bills based on the strength of victory tiebreaker. That would set up a potential Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati, in the divisional round.

There is currently no talk about the possibility of an eventual Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship being played at a neutral site, even though the Bills would have clinched the top seed by beating Cincinnati and New England.

The cancellation of Bills-Bengals also would clinch the AFC North for Cincinnati. If the Bengals had lost to the Bills, the winner of Sunday’s Ravens-Bengals game would have won the AFC North.

The Bengals could have captured the top seed by beating the Bills and winning this weekend, if the Chiefs lose to the Raiders on Saturday.

The notion of using winning percentages to determine playoff positioning was first entertained during the pandemic year of 2020, when the league braced for the possibility of multiple regular-season games being canceled. Ultimately, none were.

If this is the solution the league selects, it’s not ideal. But it’s arguably the best of various less-than-ideal options. It has not yet been finalized, but it’s pointing in that direction.