With Bills-Bengals canceled, seeding scenarios become clearer

With Bills-Bengals canceled, seeding scenarios become clearer

Regardless of what the NFL decided about the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game that was suspended and eventually canceled, some teams were going to be put in an unfair situation.

“I recognize there is no perfect solution,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.

While we will find out what will happen with the scenarios for the AFL championship game that are being debated, there is more clarity about what happens with the field itself.

The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t want their road to the No. 1 to open like this, with a game canceled due to Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffering a cardiac emergency on the field, but the reality is that they benefit from BIlls-Bengals being declared a no contest. With a win Saturday over the Las Vegas Raiders, they get a bye. This is a big advantage.

The Bills were in line for the No. 1 seed. 1 if they won, but they will have one game less than the Chiefs. Buffalo can still get the No. 1 seed. 1 if they beat the New England Patriots and the Chiefs lose to the Raiders. The Bengals had a shot at No. 1, but they don’t because they needed to win in Weeks 17 and 18 and lose the Finals. The Baltimore Ravens were also affected. They can no longer win the AFL North. The best they can do is finish a half game behind the Bengals. However, as of Thursday, the NFL was discussing a scenario in which a coin toss could determine where a round robin Bengals-Ravens wild-card game would be played if the Ravens beat the Bengals in Week 18 (which would to give Baltimore a season sweep over Cincinnati).

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Michael Wagstaffe)

It is imperfect and unprecedented for seeds and division titles to be decided with teams playing an unbalanced number of games. However, there was no way to please every team. Now all the clubs know what is at stake for the final.

Here are the Week 18 matchups that will have the biggest impact on the playoff picture:

We get a division championship game in Week 18. The winner of Saturday night’s game takes the AFC South title. The Jaguars still have an outside shot at the wild card if they lose. They would also need losses to the Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers. The Titans can’t get a wildcard. The Titans come in on the rebound and will start Joshua Dobbs at quarterback. Dobbs left the Lions’ practice squad on Dec. 21 and made his first career start a week later. Saturday night’s game will be Dobbs’ second start.

The story continues

Even if the Chiefs earn the no. 1 with a win on Saturday, the Bills still want the No. 1 seed. 2 and set up a potential divisional round game against the Bengals. They clinch the second seed with a Bengals win or loss. The Patriots earn a wild card berth with a win. They still have an outside shot at a free-play spot if they lose. Next, New England would need the Dolphins and Steelers to lose, and the Jaguars to win and clinch the AFC South.

The Dolphins are still alive and must win. This will be a battle of backup quarterbacks. The Jets, who are eliminated, are starting Joe Flacco after Mike White was ruled out with a rib injury. The Dolphins are probably starting rookie Skylar Thompson. Tua Tagovailoa will be out, and Teddy Bridgewater is dealing with a finger injury. Miami has to win and the Patriots lose to the Bills.

A few weeks ago, you would have thought the team that needed a win in this game would be the Giants. Instead, the Giants are locked into the No. 1 seed. 6 and the Eagles still need to win out to take the NFC East. The Eagles have lost two straight but are the #1 seed and division champs with a win over the Giants. If the Eagles lose, the Dallas Cowboys take the NFC East with a win over the Washington Commanders.

The 49ers can still get the no. 1, 2 or 3. If the Eagles lose and the 49ers win, San Francisco gets the top seed and a bye. If the Eagles win, the 49ers are the No. 1 seed. 2 with a Vikings win or loss. Seed no. 2 will face the no. 7, which will be the Packers, Seahawks or Lions.

All Seahawks fans seem angry this week. They are convinced the NFL will get the Seahawks by having them play at 4:25pm Eastern and putting the Packers in prime time. The rationale is if the Seahawks win, which they must do to stay alive for a wild-card spot, it means the Lions are eliminated before their game in Green Bay even starts, and Detroit would not be motivated. The NFL is not rigged; just wanted Aaron Rodgers in prime time for good ratings. However, the Seahawks need to win out and hope for an upset Lions to make the playoffs.

If the Seahawks lose, this game becomes winner-take-all for No. 7. If the Seahawks win, the Lions are eliminated. No matter what, if the Packers win, they will complete their improbable march to the playoffs and be the No. 1 seed. 7 in NFC.

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