The NFL is trying to come up with a solution to the probable “no contest” in Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals that will treat the Damar Hamlin situation with care and also be fair to the AFC playoff teams that are fighting for positioning. The no contest would mean that the Kansas City Chiefs could win the one-seed over the Bills and the Bengals would win the AFC North over the Baltimore Ravens based on winning percentage in spite of some playing one less game this season.
Should any team get a bye week if that’s the case?
One potential solution brought up by ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio on Thursday has caused a massive stir on Twitter, and it would also mean that the L.A. Rams could lose their chance to play real spoilers against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Adding an eighth playoff team to both conferences and eliminating the bye.
Here's a look at where things currently stand as to scheduling: 1. No Bills-Bengals game. 2. NFL figuring out what to do with AFC seeding. 3. Neutral site for AFC Championship is possible. 4. Expansion of playoff fields to 8 teams in AFC, NFC is possible. https://t.co/AYyELtmgn3— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 5, 2023
The “solution” would not only get rid of playoff bye weeks this season, it would also increase the number of total playoff games for the NFL to air on TV and is likely the eventual playoff field that the league wants to see in the future for that reason.
The NFL is not done expanding, it will expand into Europe, and it will probably want to have more playoff games in the future. This would mean that even if the Chiefs get the number one seed, they still have to play in the wild card round. It would also mean that to be fair, the NFC would have eight playoff teams and the Seattle Seahawks would be in if they beat the Rams on Sunday, whereas under the current structure, the Seahawks still need to beat the Rams and see the Lions beat the Packers on Sunday Night Football.
The Rams could still play spoilers if they beat Seattle—the Seahawks playoff hopes would be extremely dim, but not completely dead. The Seahawks could still get in if the Lions, Commanders, and Saints all lose.
Adam Schefter reported a different scenario, in which the AFC’s one seed would choose between getting a bye week or having to go on the road in the playoffs instead of hosting their first game.
Adam Schefter believes the NFL will not look to resume the Bengals vs. Bill game and that league is working towards either a potential neutral site AFC Championship game or 1 seed choosing between getting having a bye or home field with 2 seed getting whatever not picked. pic.twitter.com/MKnRLcRGNQ— The Comeback (@thecomeback) January 5, 2023
This is a delicate situation and not one that has a solution yet. But the NFL will take into consideration what makes sense for the Bills, as well as what makes sense for the league.