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Bills-Bengals Canceled; NFL Announces Playoff Plans



Week 18 An NFL football lays on the field at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of Steelers vs. Ravens on Jan. 1, 2023 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

The Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will not be completed, and plans for the playoffs have been nearly finalized the NFL announced on Thursday night.

The game between the Bills and Bengals at Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium was suspended and then postponed 6:12 into the first quarter, when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field.

The NFL announced earlier this week that both teams will play their scheduled Week 18 games, with the Bills facing the New England Patriots and the Bengals going up against the Baltimore Ravens.

“This has been a very difficult week,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country.  We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”

The Week 17 game will be declared a no-contest. The results of that game could end up impacting the No. 1 seed in the AFC, home field advantage between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, and the winner of the AFC North.

After the Bills-Bengals game is declared a no contest, the AFC teams will be seeded as usual, utilizing winning percentage.

If Buffalo and Kansas City both have the same results in Week 18, an AFC Championship game between those teams, or if they both lose, between those teams or Cincinnati, will be held at a neutral site.

Also, if the Ravens win in Week 18 and are scheduled to play at the Bengals in a Wild Card game, home-field advantage will be determined by coin toss.

The league has decided not to push back the playoffs or add an eighth team to make the bye irrelevant.

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell said.  “I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”

The NFL owners approved Goodell’s plan on Friday.

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