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Owners change rule for handling canceled games

Mike Florio and Peter King discuss the latest news regarding the cancellation of the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans game from Week 17, and discuss how the cancellation will impact the AFC playoff picture.

Faced with an unprecedented situation, the NFL’s owners have done an unprecedented thing.

The owners have voted to approve changes to the existing rule for handling the aftermath of a canceled game, PFT has confirmed.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, 25 owners voted in favor of the changes, with three or four voting no and the rest abstaining.

The new rule creates a potential neutral-site AFC Championship based on various factors, given the cancellation of Bills-Bengals. The new rule also determines home-field advantage for a Bengals-Ravens wild-card game by a coin flip, if the Ravens beat the Bengals on Sunday.

The existing rule would have determined all seeding based on winning percentage, with no neutral sites or coin flips or any other twists or tweaks.

The NFL has not explained to the media or the general public why the rule on the books was insufficient. The NFL could have previously crafted a rule that would have given the Commissioner the power to make decisions regarding playoff seeding and game location, but it didn’t.

Today’s development becomes a de facto endorsement of the Commissioner exercising that precise power, by mustering enough votes to get the change to the rule passed.