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How and when could the NFL reschedule the Bills vs Bengals game?

The NFL postponed the Bills vs Bengals game after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field. Is it even possible for the game to be played now?

The NFL postponed the Bills vs Bengals game after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field. Is it even possible for the game to be played now?

There is no question that the NFL made the right call to postpone the Monday Night Football game after the Buffalo Bills players watched their teammate collapse and suffer a heart attack on the field. It was a horrible scene and to expect the game to go on as normal after that is out of the question.

Bills’ Hamlin in critical condition after collapsing on field

Eventually, the league announced that the Bills vs Bengals game will not resume this week. It would have needed to be played within two days, and that is simply too soon given that Damar Hamlin is still fighting for his life in the hospital. That leaves a big question mark on how the NFL will deal with the game. If it’s not played this week, when will it be played? Or will they have to just cancel it completely?

How does the Bills vs Bengals postponement affect NFL playoff scenarios?

How the NFL could fit the Bengals vs Bills game into the regular season schedule

This is completely uncharted territory for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has the authority to make the final call on the game. No NFL game has ever been suspended and then resumed on another date. Some preseason games have been canceled or ended early, and some regular season games have been rescheduled before they began. But this is the first time an NFL game has stopped in the middle and not resumed that same day.

The math simply does not add up. If the Bengals vs Bills game does not happen this week, when could it happen? Week 18 is set to resume as normal, which has both the Bengals and Bills playing other teams on Sunday. Then, the playoffs are set to start the following week.

The only option now would be for the NFL to add a 19th week to the schedule and push back the playoff games and remove the off week before the Super Bowl. Of course, depending on the results of the Week 18 games, the Bengals and Bills game may not even matter as far as playoff seeds since the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs game will have been played by then. If they do add a Week 19 game to the schedule, it could potentially create network conflicts as the playoff games in primetime spots would need to be moved.

At the moment, though, this seems like the only possibility besides outright canceling. This is a unique situation and the NFL will surely make things up as they go while being sensitive to the horrific event that occurred on the field on Monday. It should be noted, the Bengals played a game two days after their teammate Chris Henry passed away in 2009. As unfortunate as these tragic events are, the league goes on and it is now a question of logistics.

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If the Chiefs, Patriots, and Bengals all win in Week 18, it’s very possible the league could decide at that time to abandon the game completely, as it would then only be played to determine the second and third seed in the AFC. If that is the case, the Bengals would be given the second seed based on the fourth strength-of-victory tiebreaker. It’s also possible that Goodell could then make some playoff structural changes to try to make it as fair as possible, like giving Bills the home-field advantage if it ends up being a divisional playoff matchup between the two, or finding a neutral field to play.

Though the policies in the NFL rulebook state that a game must be resumed to avoid any injustices, it is still possible that if the only teams affected by the cancellation are the Bengals and Bills, then they may find it worth it to cancel. If that is the case, then the playoff standings would be based on win percentage.


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