NFL Approves NEUTRAL Website for Potential Bills Chiefs AFC Title Game
The NFL on Friday approved a resolution to move a potential Bills-Kansas City Chiefs AFC championship to a neutral venue after the league’s decision to cancel Monday’s Buffalo-Cincinnati Bengals game threw the playoff seeding into chaos.
Now, should the 12-3 Bills and 13-3 Chiefs both advance to the AFC title game, they will face off on a neutral spot, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl. This potential neutral site has not yet been publicly named. Both teams have one game left this weekend and if they were tied, they would only be separated by percentage points for first place: win, lose or draw.
The NFL also approved a proposed coin toss to determine home field advantage should the Bengals and Baltimore Ravens find themselves in a first-round playoff match. The two teams meet in Sunday’s regular-season finals and could avoid the coin toss if Cincinnati wins to secure a straight AFC North Division title.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) lies on the turf after tackling Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, who is unseen, while Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) helps out at the end of the game in the first half of a NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faces the challenge of seeding playoff teams that have played different numbers of games following the cancellation of Monday Night Football this week
The troubles stem from the NFL’s decision to cancel the remainder of Monday’s Bills-Bengals game, which was postponed after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered on-field cardiac arrest and required CPR. Hamlin remains hospitalized in Cincinnati, where he recently had his breathing tube removed and even had a FaceTime call with teammates on Friday.
The MNF matchup had significant playoff implications for both the 12-3 Bills and 11-4 Bengals.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor has previously expressed his dismay at the NFL’s planned coin toss.
“It’s black and white, it’s in the rule book,” Taylor told reporters Friday as NFL owners met to discuss proposed changes to this year’s playoff format.
Under normal circumstances, home field advantage is determined by the win percentage.
“So we don’t follow the rules anymore,” tweeted the Bengals, who manages Joe Mixon.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor has previously expressed his dismay at the NFL’s planned coin toss. “It’s black and white, it’s in the rule book,” Taylor told reporters Friday as NFL owners met to discuss proposed changes to this year’s playoff format
The running back lashed out at the NFL for failing to follow his own policy regarding canceled games
Joe Mixon criticized the AFC playoff scenarios put forward by the league earlier this week
The situation can be avoided entirely if the Bengals beat the Ravens 10-6 on Sunday — a decent possibility considering Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson is out with a knee injury.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the complications the league is facing in a statement Thursday.
“When looking at the football plan, our principle was to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive disparities,” Goodell said. “I realize that there is no perfect solution. However, the proposal we are soliciting from the owners addresses the key potential equity issues raised by the difficult but necessary decision not to play the game in these exceptional circumstances.’
The NFL approved resolutions Monday to determine home field advantage in several potential playoff matchups
Instead of canceling the game and awarding playoff placement by winning percentage, the NFL and its competitions committee approved several changes on Friday.
The AFC Championship game will be played at a neutral venue when the participating teams have played an unequal number of games and both were seeded number 1 and could have hosted the game had all AFC clubs played a full 17-game regular season.
Under these circumstances, either Buffalo or Cincinnati will qualify as the road team for the game. If Buffalo and Kansas City both win or draw this weekend, a Bills-Chiefs AFC title game would be played at a neutral venue.
If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or draws, an AFC title game between Bills and Chiefs would be played at a neutral venue.
If Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins, the Bills or Bengals would be in a neutral spot against Kansas City in the AFC title game.
If Baltimore beats Cincinnati in Week 18, the Ravens would have two wins against division opponents Bengals but would not be able to host a playoff game because Cincinnati will have a higher win rate on a 16-game schedule than Baltimore on a 17-game schedule.
Therefore, if Baltimore defeats Cincinnati and these two clubs play a wildcard game against each other, the venue for that game will be determined by a coin toss.
But if the Bengals win this weekend, or if Baltimore and Cincinnati don’t play each other in the wild card round, the venues would be determined through regular scheduling procedures.
It is the first time since 1935 that not all teams play the same number of games. The NFL’s 2022 Game Operations Policy Manual states that “a team’s standing in its division or conference” is determined by its winning percentage when a game is called off. Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the canceled game, the league proposed new rules.
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