The NFL announced Thursday it will not resume the Bills-Bengals game that was suspended Monday night after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field..
“This has been a very difficult week,” NFL Roger 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.”
The NFL said cancelling the game between the Bills and Bengals creates potential competitive inequities in certain playoff scenarios. 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 Thursday by the Competition Committee.
Hamlin has shown what physicians treating him are calling “remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the team announced Thursday, three days after the 24-year-old player had to be resuscitated on the field.
The Bills-Bengals game had major playoff implications.
Buffalo (12-3) entered Monday night needing a win to maintain the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) now hold that spot. The Bengals (11-4) had a chance to earn that top seed with two more wins and a loss by the Chiefs.
The NFL said the key factors in arriving at this decision were:
- Not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason. No club would qualify for the postseason and no club will be eliminated based on the outcome of this game.
- It would require postponing the start of the playoffs for one week, thereby affecting all 14 clubs that qualify for postseason play.
- Making the decision prior to Week 18 is consistent with our competitive principles and enables all clubs to know the playoff possibilities prior to playing the final weekend of regular season games.
Seedings could be determined by winning percentage. In that case, the Chiefs would remain in the top spot with a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.
The Bills lost a thrilling overtime game at Kansas City in the divisional round last year. They beat the Chiefs 24-20 in Kansas City in October to earn a tiebreaker advantage for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Adding an eighth playoff team to the field in both conferences and giving the top two teams a first-round bye is perhaps the most intriguing among the many possibilities.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) are among the teams that would be impacted by an additional playoff team. The Steelers must beat Cleveland on Sunday and need losses by Miami and New England to clinch a playoff spot that seemed unlikely when they began the season 2-6. Adding an eighth playoff team would give Pittsburgh a little more wiggle room to reach the postseason for the third straight year.
“That works for us,” Steelers inside linebacker Myles Jack said. “That would be good. To get another chance to get up in there so it increases our odds. I’m all for it. That’s up to them. That’d be pretty cool.”