The NFL is moving toward resolving the issue arising from the postponement of the Week 17 game between the Bills and the Bengals.
The current momentum is that the Bills-Bengals game will not resume, and be declared a no contest. The playoff seed will then be decided based on the outcome of the Week 18 games.
This means that the Chiefs will get the top seed by defeating the Raiders on Saturday. The Bills will become the top seed by defeating 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 a win over the Bills on the strength of the tiebreaker victory. That would set up a potential Bills-Bengals game in Cincinnati, in the divisional round.
There is currently no talk of the eventual possibility of a neutral-site Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship, although the Bills could have clinched the top seed with wins over Cincinnati and New England.
The Bills-Bengals elimination would also see AFC North snatch 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 grabbed the top seed by defeating the Bills and winning this weekend, if the Chiefs lost to the Raiders on Saturday.
The idea of using winning percentages to determine playoff position was first mooted during the pandemic year of 2020, when the league prepared for the possibility of several regular season games being canceled. In the end, there was none.
If this is the solution the league chooses, it’s not ideal. But it is arguably the best of the various less-than-ideal options. It’s not finished yet, but it points in that direction.
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