AFC Championship Could Be at Neutral Site as NFL Cancels Bills-Bengals
After the incredibly scary injury suffered by Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Monday Night, football took a back seat to the fight Hamlin was facing in the hospital.
Thankfully and miraculously, Hamlin has begun the process of recovery. He remains in critical condition but doctors say that he is neurologically intact, even managing to write a note asking if the Bills won the game.
After the injury, it was clear neither Bills players nor Bengals players had any desire to finish the game, and it was postponed until a decision could be made.
That decision has now been made.
After first being reported by Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press, the Bengals-Bills matchup has been canceled by the NFL.
The matchup had major AFC implications, and the NFL has decided, in lieu of having an outright winner, that a neutral-site AFC Championship game would be played in the instance of either affected team being involved. In certain situations, the home team of some playoff games could even be decided by coin toss.
The reasoning for this is to preserve the competitive equity of the 1st-round bye and equivalent home-field advantage. The official NFL release details all possible outcomes based on the results of week 18 and the early rounds of the playoffs.
This does mean that the rumored idea of an 8-team playoff will not become a reality. This is the right move, as the logistics involved in adding an extra seed this late in the season would be difficult at best.
Needless to say Hamlin's recovery is still the key priority, but this unfortunate situation has undoubtedly created a highly irregular and interesting playoff picture in the AFC.