Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

NFL ponders playoff seeding without playing Bills-Bengals

Joe Burrow has stated the Bengals want whatever the Bills want in relation to finishing the Bills-Bengals game, which leads Mike Florio and Chris Simms to outline different scheduling options.

The NFL continues to discuss and deliberate the unfinished Bills-Bengals game from Week 17.

Nothing is official yet. Here’s what we currently know.

Bills-Bengals most likely will not be played. The players don’t want to do it. And there’s no good way to fit it into the schedule.

The best bad solution in this regard would be to play the NFC wild-card round and Bills-Bengals next weekend, with the AFC wild-card round being played the next weekend. This would wipe out the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. There’s no appetite for that approach.

The question then becomes seeding the AFC playoffs without Bills-Bengals. Winning percentage becomes the most obvious method. 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 seed AFC seeds.

One possibility would be to add an eighth team to the playoff field in the AFC. This would eliminate the bye for the No. 1 seed.

To ensure competitive balance, there would have to be eight teams in the NFC, too.

The NFL Players Association would have to agree to a temporary expansion of the playoff field.

Discussions also are continuing on the possibility of making the AFC Championship a neutral-site game. The problem with this approach is that if, for example, a team other than the Bills, Chiefs, or Bengals qualifies for the game, there’s no need to use a neutral site.

However it plays out, a decision needs to be made soon -- especially if the playoff field will unexpectedly grow, in both conferences. It changes the dynamics for the teams vying for playoff positioning.