NEW YORK — The NFL has canceled the Bills and Bengals' week 17 game and announced their plans for playoff scenarios.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed all clubs of his decision on Thursday, after speaking with the Bills, the Bengals and NFL Players Association leadership.
“This has been a very difficult week,” 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.”
Canceling the game between the Bills and Bengals creates potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios. The NFL says that in an effort to mitigate those "inequities," NFL clubs will consider Friday in a Special League Meeting a resolution recommended by the Commissioner and approved today by the Competition Committee, consisting of two elements:
The AFC Championship Game will be played at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games and both could have been the number one seed and hosted the game had all AFC clubs played a full 17-game regular season. Those circumstances involve Buffalo or Cincinnati qualifying for the game as a road team and are listed below:
Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie in week 18 – a Buffalo vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Buffalo and Kansas City both lose in week 18 and Baltimore wins or ties – a Buffalo vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Buffalo and Kansas City both lose in week 18 and Cincinnati wins – a Buffalo or Cincinnati vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
If Baltimore defeats Cincinnati in Week 18 it will have defeated Cincinnati, a divisional opponent, twice but will not be able to host a playoff game because Cincinnati will have a higher winning percentage for a 16-game schedule than Baltimore will for a 17-game schedule.
If Baltimore defeats Cincinnati and if those two clubs are scheduled to play a Wild Card game against one another, the site for that game would be determined by a coin toss.
If Cincinnati wins the Week 18 game or if Baltimore and Cincinnati are not scheduled to play one another in the Wild Card round, the game sites would be determined by the regular scheduling procedures.