In a late-breaking news fashion last night, the NFL announced that the Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills visiting the Cincinnati game will not be resumed. Therefore yes, both teams will technically only have played 16 games in 2022 as opposed to the 17 games they were scheduled for.
The NFL DID NOT agree to tie the game and add a “free win” to the Bengals or Bills record this season.
Among the key factors in arriving at this decision:
NFL Press Release
- 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.
What does that mean?
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.
2 – If Baltimore defeats Cincinnati in Week 18 it will have defeated Cincinnati, a divisional opponent, twice but will not be able to host a playoff game because Cincinnati will have a higher winning percentage for a 16-game schedule than Baltimore will for a 17-game schedule.
If Baltimore defeats Cincinnati and if those two clubs are scheduled to play a Wild Card game against one another, the site for that game would be determined by a coin toss. If Cincinnati wins the Week 18 game or if Baltimore and Cincinnati are not scheduled to play one another in the Wild Card round, the game sites would be determined by the regular scheduling procedures.