NEW YORK — The NFL made an executive decision Thursday relating to Monday’s suspended game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals.
A news release from the league Thursday evening reveals that the game will not resume under any means. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the two teams of the decision earlier in the day after speaking with the leadership of the Bills, Bengals, and the NFL Players Association.
“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.”
Goodell specified three key factors in arriving at this decision:
The game result between the Bills and Bengals would not affect playoff contention
Goodell explains that not allowing the Bills and Bengals to play this game to the very end does not impact playoff contention. In this case, the end outcome will have no role on whether the Bills or Bengals would be eligible for the playoffs.
The final outcome would also not result in the elimination from playoff contention on the basis of the game’s outcome.
Allowing for making up this game would mandate delaying the playoffs
Goodell specifies that if the Bills/Bengals game was to be continued at some point, it would result in some delays in proceeding to the NFL postseason/playoffs.
Allowing the game to continue would require postponing the beginning of the playoffs for one week. As a result, it would affect the 14 teams that qualify for playoff play.
Maintaining the league’s competitive principles
Goodell stipulates that the decision he arrived at prior to Week 18 maintains consistency with the NFL’s competitive principles. As a result, it enables all clubs to know the playoff possibilities prior to playing their final regular season games.
How competitive principles are in play for Bills and Bengals playoff scenarios
The NFL cancelling the game creates the potential for competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios.
In an attempt to mitigate such inequities, all 32 NFL teams will consider a resolution in a special league meeting Friday relating to a neutral site AFC Championship game.
The resolution was approved Thursday by the NFL Competition Committee. The resolution in full consists of two elements:
AFC Championship Game: The AFC Championship will be played at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games where both teams could have become the number one seed in the playoffs and hosted the game.
This would have required that all AFC conference teams played a full 17-game season. This specifically addresses the potential of the Bills and/or Bengals qualifying for the playoffs.
Furthermore, it breaks down three potential scenarios which would require a neutral site AFC Championship:
|Situation 1||Situation 2||Situation 3||Outcome|
|Scenario 1||Bills and Chiefs both win||Bills and Chiefs both tie||N/A||Bills/Chiefs – Neutral site championship|
|Scenario 2||Bills lose||Chiefs lose||Ravens wins or ties||Bills/Chiefs – Neutral site championship|
|Scenario 3||Bills lose||Chiefs lose||Bengals win||Winner of Bills/Bengals vs. Chiefs – Neutral site championship|
Ravens will not be able to host a playoff game: The second stipulation states that if the Ravens defeat the Bengals, it would mark defeating a divisional opponent twice. However, it would not result in the Ravens hosting a playoff game.
This stipulation would be because the Bengals would still have a higher winning percentage, having only played 16 games out of the standard 17.
However, if Baltimore beats Cincinnati, and both are scheduled to play in the AFC Wild Card game, the game site will be determined by a coin toss.
In contrast, if the Bengals win and the Bengals and Ravens are not scheduled in the Wild Card round, the game site will be determined by league scheduling procedures.
“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 owners 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.”