So what now?
That’s the million dollar question for the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs.
On Thursday night, the NFL announced that the Bills’ Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals will not be resumed and has been cancelled.
Entering the week, Buffalo held the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a 12-3 record. The Chiefs were the No. 2 with the same record and the Bengals were right behind both teams at 11-4.
Kansas City eked out a 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos while Buffalo and Cincinnati didn’t complete their game. Now, the Chiefs sit atop the AFC standings due to having one more win than the Bills as they’ve played one more game than the Bills and Bengals.
All three teams will take the field in Week 18 with a chance to clear things up in the standings. The Chiefs will face a Las Vegas Raiders team led by Jarrett Stidham. The Bills will host the New England Patriots, and the Bengals will host the Baltimore Ravens, a game that could have division implications.
Based on the outcomes of those games, it’s possible that the AFC seeding fixes itself. If the Chiefs lose and the Bills win, then the question of seeding becomes clearer. Or if the Bills lose and the Chiefs win, there’s no issue.
But what if all three teams win?
The NFL noted on Thursday night that cancelling the Bills-Bengals matchup creates potential competitive inequalities in certain scenarios. On Friday, NFL clubs will consider three potential resolutions that have been recommended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s Competition Committee.
The main takeaways for the Bills are:
- The Bills’ only path to the one seed at this point requires the Chiefs lose to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
- If the Chiefs and Bills play in an AFC Championship game, it could be played at a neutral site, depending on how this weekend’s games go.
- If the Bills and Bengals meet in the AFC Championship, it’ll be in Orchard Park.
Below is what the league noted in a message from NFL communications:
1. 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 – a Buffalo vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties – a Buffalo vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins – a Buffalo or Cincinnati vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Confused? ESPN’s Field Yates made the scenarios a bit easier to understand.