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Bengals - Bills ruled no-contest; NFL approves new 2023 playoff rules

The NFL has officially approved new rules for the 2023 NFL Playoffs.

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The league has officially approved the proposed changes for the 2022-23 NFL playoffs.

To recap:

  • Bengals vs. Bills is canceled, and both teams will finish the regular season having played only 16 games.
  • The Bengals are AFC North champions and will play a 2023 schedule against first-place teams from the AFC East (Bills), AFC West (Chiefs) and NFC North (Vikings).
  • If the Bengals win this weekend and have the Chiefs and Bills both lose, a Bengals - Chiefs AFC Championship Game will be played on a neutral field, though what stadium that would be is still TBD.
  • If the Bengals lose to the Ravens this weekend and are scheduled to play them in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, who gets to host said playoff game will be decided by a coin flip.

As you can imagine, Zac Taylor is pissed, and rightfully so.

You can see the full press release below or go here to read it.


It’s official. The NFL has announced Bengals - Bills is canceled and will not be made up. That means the Bengals are AFC North champs, though it may not exactly matter when it comes to potentially hosting a playoff game.

The NFL has also announced it will hold a special meeting on Friday with all 32 teams to vote on how the NFL playoffs will be affected, and boy is it a doozy.

Quick summary for the Bengals: If the Bengals lose to the Ravens and are then scheduled to face off in the playoffs, who gets to host said playoff game gets decided by a coin flip of all things.

Additionally, if the Bengals beat the Ravens in Week 18 while both the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs lose, a potential Bengals vs. Chiefs AFC Championship Game would be played on a neutral field.

So, here is what the league will be voting on tomorrow via

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:

Scenario 1: Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie – a Buffalo vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.

Scenario 2: Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties – a Buffalo vs Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.

Scenario 3: 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 schedule 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.


We now have a decision from the NFL for the Week 17 matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, which was suspended in the first quarter after safety Damar Hamlin had a medical emergency.

According to AP reporter Rob Maaddi, the league has decided the game will not be made up and is now declared a no-contest. Pending an official announcement from the NFL, this means both teams will effectively play a 16-game NFL season, while the rest of the league will play 17 games.

More importantly, this means the 11-4 Bengals have won the AFC North over the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens and will host at least one game in the NFL Playoffs. The reason being is no matter what happens this week, the Bengals will finish with a higher win percentage, and the Ravens can’t win more than 11 regular-season games now.

It also means the Bengals cannot win the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed, but they can still get the 2 seed if they win this week and the 12-3 Bills lose at home to the New England Patriots.

It’s worth noting the Pats must win to make the playoffs, whereas the Ravens are locked into a Wild Card spot now and may rest a good chunk of their starters this week.

While this is all but official, questions remain as to how the playoffs will unfold. There’s a report that the league could consider having the AFC Championship Game played on a neutral field if either the Bills or Bengals make it that far.

All things considered, this was likely the best outcome anyone could hope for in light of Monday’s near-tragic situation. The most important thing is Damar Hamlin has made significant improvements in his recovery since then. Here’s to hoping that continues to move in a positive direction!

We will have more on this story shortly once this becomes official.

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