But there was one more team they should’ve considered: the Cincinnati Bengals, who would’ve been on pace to get the #2 seed had they beat the Bills (they were leading 7-3 at home before the game was stopped due to Damar Hamlin’s scary injury). And the Bengals even had a decent shot at the #1 seed.
Now they could lose home advantage in the first round despite winning the AFC North fair and square.
Needless to say, the team and front office are outraged.
Zac Taylor makes is very clear that the NFL did the Bengals no favors by not following their own rules for playoff scheduling. pic.twitter.com/eHJ63IQOTy— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) January 6, 2023
And fans and Bengals reporters aren’t taking it well either.
The Bengals are rightfully angry about the league's proposal. Zac Taylor, Katie Blackburn, and Joe Mixon have all alluded to the same ideas at this point. We'll see if any of it matters.— Jake Liscow (@JakeLiscow) January 6, 2023
If the NFL is gonna make the Bengals play a division champion schedule next season, then they need to guarantee them a wild card round home game, which is a reward for winning the division— Blake Jewell (@BlakeJewellNFL) January 6, 2023
There is absolutely no way you can look at what the Bengals received in comparison to KC and BUF in a game they were winning and say this is fair. At minimum if they play BUF it should be at a neutral site. They went from a chance to win the 1 seed to a coin flip against BAL— Ace Boogie (@NewStripeCity) January 6, 2023
If KC loses vs LV, CIN wins vs BAL, & BUF wins vs NE:— Andre Perrotta (@andreperrotta13) January 6, 2023
Yet in a potential #2 vs #3 divisional, CIN doesn't get the benefit of a coin flip deciding the venue vs KC, but BAL does get such a benefit when conditions are same (uneven games & head-to-head win)??
Basically, the NFL gave the Bengals and Bills a Loss for Monday Night.— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) January 6, 2023
If the Bengals win the AFC championship game, Roger Goodell will flip a coin to decide whether it’s KC or Buffalo that gets to play the Super Bowl instead— Mark Chalifoux (@markchalifoux) January 6, 2023
NFL: We wanted "perfect equity"— Chris Roling (@Chris_Roling) January 6, 2023
Bengals: Apply the rules as written or apply the homefield coin-flips to more games.
NFL: No not equity like that.
If you needed any more proof that the @NFL has biases against some markets, you have it today.— (@BengalsCaptain) January 6, 2023
The @NFL did something below board and slimy? Do we all pretend to be shocked? I'd file a suit right now - hold the whole dang season up.— Bridget J (@bridgetjancarz) January 6, 2023
i’m also pissed off because the fans in cincinnati are so passionate & deserve a home playoff game. not everyone has the extra cash laying around to travel, esp in THIS ECONOMY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! also, something tells me ticket sells for a neutral site game would be atrocious— Commissioner Yas (@commissioneryas) January 6, 2023
There's an asterisk on this season unless the #Bengals win it all.— (@BengalsCaptain) January 6, 2023
The worst part for many is the fact that the Bengals are being punished for leaving the field out of respect for Hamlin, when they could’ve stayed and forced the Bills, who were not prepared to continue, to forfeit.
If you feel the Bengals are being punished for refusing to continue to play after a life threatening injury, that might be by design.— Dadio Makdook (@dadiodefacto) January 6, 2023
Remember how both teams were expected to play after a 5 minute break? They want to make sure that is enforced in the future.
The NFL screwing over the Bengals more than any other team tells us one thing:— Faux Joey Brrr (@FauxJeaux) January 6, 2023
If you show empathy and do the right thing (but they have to cancel a game and lose money) = you get punished.
The NFL has officially declared it bad to be good people and you are 100% better off forcing the other team to play despite tragedy or forfeit the game.— Ryan The Cocaine Hippo (@RoyleRedlegs) January 6, 2023
Even non-Bengals fans and reporters not related to the team found the situation to be ridiculous.
The Bengals potentially playing on the road in the Wildcard Round despite clinching their division & playing a 1st Place schedule in 2023 with a worse pick in the NFL Draft while their chance at the No. 1 seed is removed feels so rigged it could’ve came from the US Supreme Court.— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) January 6, 2023
One thing the Bengals did control going into Monday night that they now don't: The No. 2 seed, which guarantees a home game in the divisional round. So I can understand where they're chafed by the changes.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 6, 2023
NFL execs deciding on the AFC Playoff situation: pic.twitter.com/SvS8HgDEzp— Bleav (@BleavNetwork) January 6, 2023
Am I the only one who thinks the Bengals are kinda getting screwed here— lindsey ok (@lindseyyok) January 6, 2023
Still, it’s important we don’t lose our cool and do something rash.
we all know what day it is and i know what you're thinking. do *not* storm the league office.— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) January 6, 2023
Whew, okay, that’ll do for now. But you get the point. This is a big mess, and Bengals fans are not going to accept a playoff loss on the road (especially if it happens against the Ravens!) very well.
Unfortunately, none of our complaints will go anywhere. The only thing that’s left to do is beat the Ravens on Sunday in order to secure at least one home playoff win.
We preview that game below:
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