UPDATED: Bengals-Bills Will Not Be Continued
NFL Week 18 - The Associated Press is now reporting that the Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals game from Monday night will not be continued or rescheduled. We are still awaiting an official announcement from the league, as well as news about any changes that might be made to the playoff structure to try to account for the absence of this game from the schedule. The main issue is that Kansas City will presumably win the bye week with a win over Las Vegas on Saturday by virtue of a 14-3 record compared to 13-3 for Buffalo (if the Bills beat New England).
Possibilities being discussed in the media include:
- Adding an eighth seed in each conference so that the No. 1 seed will not get a bye week.
- Playing the AFC Championship at a neutral location.
- "Splitting" the No. 1 seed so that between Kansas City and Buffalo, one team gets the bye week while the other team gets home-field advantage.
- No changes, leaving things as is.
UPDATE 10PM: The league has now announced this is official and they have also announced playoff implications.
Full release from NFL office pic.twitter.com/38wMAfyw14
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) January 6, 2023
- The AFC Championship Game may be played at a neutral site if the two teams are separated by just a half-game in the standings.
- If Baltimore beats Cincinnati this week, then any possible wild-card game between those two teams would have its location decided by coin flip. (It would mean the Ravens will have beaten the Bengals twice but will still be a half-game behind them in the standings.)
63 comments, Last at 10 Jan 2023, 10:35am
#1 by Pat // Jan 05, 2023 - 3:15pm
Yup, that's what I expected.
I still think the smartest thing for them to do is just come out and say "we're not going to reschedule or resume the BUF/CIN game. Playoff implications will be determined after week 18's games have been played."
The idea of needing to know the playoff implications of a game before it's played is actually something the NFL hates, which is the entire reason why so many in-division games are late in the year. So making it that it's impossible to know is totally fine.
The idea of "splitting" the #1 seed is completely insane to me, since the bye week is just sooo much more valuable.
#2 by coltsandrew // Jan 05, 2023 - 3:20pm
In light of this, it seems like the most sensible thing for the Bills to do would be to either forfeit against the Pats, or rest all their starters and basically give themselves a bye week since there is no practical difference between a 2 and 3 seed under the current playoff paradigm.
#3 by Pat // Jan 05, 2023 - 3:25pm
That's why I said the NFL should just say playoff implications will be figured out afterwards. As in, don't assume anything, play the game like everything is on the table. If the Bills finish 13-3 and the Chiefs finish 14-3, you reserve the right to determine the #1 seed via coin flip.
#37 by coltsandrew // Jan 06, 2023 - 10:43am
I realize I didn't spell this out, but my point was that the Bills don't have control over whether they get a bye in week 19 but they do have control over whether they can rest in week 18. If the league won't give them a path that they can completely control in week 18, they may as well rest because a week of rest or more helpful than avoiding travel an extra week. To be clear, my focus is solely on what decisions and outcomes the Bills can control.
#39 by Pat // Jan 06, 2023 - 12:34pm
I think we're talking across each other - my point was that it was a mistake for the NFL to come out and say "seeding is just win percentage and we might tweak a few games to be neutral site." They should've just said "win your games and we'll figure it out.
I realized yesterday they actually should've just special cased all of the outcomes. No need to coin flip, you can use a different team's outcome to do it. This might seem weird, but percentage-wise it's the same thing.
BUF win/KC win/CIN win = KC/BUF/CIN
BUF win/KC win/CIN loss = BUF/KC/BAL
BUF win/KC loss/CIN win = BUF/CIN/KC
BUF win/KC loss/CIN loss = BUF/KC/BAL
BUF loss/KC loss/CIN win = CIN/BUF/KC
BUF loss/KC win/CIN win = KC/CIN/BUF
BUF loss/KC win/CIN loss = KC/BUF/CIN
BUF loss/KC loss/CIN loss = KC/BUF/CIN
I think that's all correct. Functionally gives the #1 seed to either KC or BUF 75% of the time if they win, and still gives the #1 seed to Cincinnati 50% of the time with KC loss/CIN win. Effectively, think of it like this: if BUF and KC both win in Week 18, then Kansas City needs a Cincinnati win to get the #1 seed. Which is what they needed before - just vs the Bills, not the Ravens. Same thing with Cincinnati getting the #1 seed: if KC loses and they win, they needed a Buffalo loss to get the #1 seed.
(edit: fixed to deal with AFC North, I think)
#43 by Eddo // Jan 06, 2023 - 1:47pm
I don't think any of that is quite right. For example, "BUF win/KC loss/CIN loss = BUF/KC/BAL" isn't true; CIN at 11-5 will have a better winning percentage than BAL at 11-6. And CIN can't have finish ahead of KC unless they beat BAL, KC loses to LV, and CIN is given a win for the BUF-CIN game.
#44 by Pat // Jan 06, 2023 - 1:51pm
Sorry if I wasn't clear. What I'm saying is that the NFL should not have done winning percentage, but they should've just special cased all of the outcomes to make the percentages equal to a 50/50 split for BUF/CIN.
BUF win/KC loss/CIN loss for instance would put CIN at 11-5 and BAL at 11-6, so if Buffalo would've beaten Cincinnati, Baltimore would've taken the AFC North. So you make the BUF/CIN game basically "contingent" on Buffalo there. Same thing for Cincinnati getting the #1 seed.
It's really the same thing as a coin flip but it looks less random and retains all the same possibilities as before the BUF/CIN game.
#47 by Scott P. // Jan 06, 2023 - 5:36pm
The coin flip already happened. We ended up in the sheaf of potential universes where the BUF/CIN game wasn't completed. For a given team, half of those universes that was something that benefited them, half of the universes it wasn't. There was a 50/50 chance you ended up in a sub-sheaf in which the cancelled game benefited you. If not, you lost the coin flip.
#52 by Pat // Jan 07, 2023 - 5:07pm
There was a 50/50 chance you ended up in a sub-sheaf in which the cancelled game benefited you
Um. No. The cancelled game only affected a handful of teams, and it affected the outcome of the season in ways that could not have occurred regardless of the outcome of the that game had it had been played.
Special-casing all outcomes just restores the way that game could have happened, which cancelling doesn't.
#57 by Scott P. // Jan 08, 2023 - 1:13pm
The cancelled game affected only a handful of teams in THIS universe. There is a universe where Kansas City is a half-game behind Buffalo and really needed the Bills to lose that game to get the #1 seed. The odds of us finding ourselves in THAT universe are the same as the odds we ended up in THIS universe. The cosmic dice were already rolled and led us to existing in THIS universe rather than any other.
#32 by apbadogs // Jan 06, 2023 - 7:07am
@Bear, that one confused me at first and I had to re-read...what it means KC would be the #1 seed but Buffalo gets home field throughout the playoffs so even if they face KC in the AFC Final it would be in Buffalo, not KC.
#29 by RickD // Jan 05, 2023 - 11:04pm
Much as a tank game would amuse me as a Pats fan, I don't think your math is quite right. The 2 seed is still going to host the 3 seed in the second round, if both win in the wild card round. And the 2 seed will (theoretically) have the easier path in the playoffs.
There isn't a perfect solution, but this feels like a "least bad" solution.
#9 by colonialbob // Jan 05, 2023 - 4:13pm
the idea of splitting the #1 seed sorta makes sense to me actually - it's kind of distributing the advantages of the #1 over the teams who could've gotten it. Yeah, the bye week is immensely more valuable, but HFA isn't nothing, so it's sort of like giving (say) KC 85% of the #1 seed and BUF the other 15%. Not saying it's actually a good idea, but I do think there is some logic behind it.
#23 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 05, 2023 - 8:46pm
You would take the bye unless you kept the #1 seeding along with HFA. The 2/3 seeds likely have to play each other and the 1, whereas the 1 seed only has to play one of the three. Cincy/KC/Buffalo is the big three and only needing to beat one of them to make the Super Bowl is the biggest advantage on the table.
#27 by BearDown103 // Jan 05, 2023 - 9:46pm
Let’s say any of these teams have a 70% chance against a 4-seed or lower at home and a 55% chance against each other at home.
Then taking the 2-seed and a bye:
1-seed and 3-seed both win WC (Probability 0.49):
55% against 3-seed in Div.
45% chance (if 1-seed wins Div) or 70% (if 1-seed loses Div) in Conference = 52.5% overall
so 23.6% to reach SB conditional on 1 and 3 both winning WC
1-seed wins, 3-seed loses WC (Probability 0.21)
70% chance in Div
52.5% chance in Conf (same argument as above)
So 36.8% to reach SB conditional on 1 winning and 3 losing WC
1-seed loses, 3-seed wins WC (Probability 0.21)
70% chance in Div
55% (0.7) or 70% (0.3) chance in Conf = 59.5%
So 41.7% to reach SB conditional on 1 losing and 3 winning WC
1-seed and 3-seed both lose WC (Probability 0.09)
49% chance to reach SB (70% against two inferior opponents).
So 32.5% chance overall to reach SB
#28 by BearDown103 // Jan 05, 2023 - 9:52pm
Taking 1-seed and HFA:
49% chance to win 2 easy games in WC and Div
Chance of going up against 2-seed or 3-seed in Div = Either 3-seed wins WC or 2-seed wins Div = 91%
Chance in Conf = (.91)(.55) + (.09)(.7) = 56.4%.
Chance to reach SB = (.49)(.564) = 27.6%.
This is lower than the 32.5% attained by taking the #2 seed and the bye, so under these assumptions, it is still better to take the bye even if the 1 seed comes with HFA.
#4 by DGL // Jan 05, 2023 - 3:34pm
Does anyone know the implications for the rights fees for the "suspended then cancelled" MNF game? I'm in a conversation on another site where someone thinks that Disney/ABC is entitled to a share of their 2022 broadcast rights fee back; ISTM that even if there's some clause in the rights agreement about cancelled games, that would only apply if the game was cancelled before the broadcast began airing, not if it was cancelled 2:15 after the start of the broadcast. I doubt that Disney is refunding any of the advertising money they got.
#30 by RickD // Jan 05, 2023 - 11:07pm
Do you think the product provided by the NFL kept the audience that was expected?
I suspect most people changed the channel after 15 minutes or so.
But of course, if the people who paid for the ads cannot get back the money they paid, then neither can ESPN. Are advertising contracts strongly ratings-sensitive?
#40 by EJS // Jan 06, 2023 - 1:11pm
As an advertiser, you're paying for eyeballs - the purchased units are non-refundable if they air, but if they don't delivery 90%+ (depending on negotiated minimum guarantee) of purchased demo impressions, ABC/Disney/ESPN have to run the spot in additional programming until the threshold is met (subject to ad campaign end-date and any pre-negotiated programming blacklists).
#5 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 05, 2023 - 3:53pm
"Possibilities being discussed in the media include:
- Adding an eighth seed in each conference so that the No. 1 seed will not get a bye week."
Okay, this idea is insane, and there's no way it happens. I know there was a precedent during the 1982 strike season, but to suddenly conjure this a day or two before the last week would sow all sorts of chaos.
#8 by Pat // Jan 05, 2023 - 4:01pm
It's just "discussed in the media." Florio floated it on PFT. It's not happening, it's only out there because the NFL is probably holding back any comment on what will happen with playoff seeding until after Week 18's games have been played.
Doesn't hurt the NFL for fans to have a little more interest in pointless week 18 games.
#12 by KnotMe // Jan 05, 2023 - 5:28pm
They definitely are not adding an 8th seed. Esp if they arn't going to announce what they are doing till after week 18. There would be massive backlash from that.
That said, it making Ron Riveria retroactivly right would be hilarous.
#36 by Eddo // Jan 06, 2023 - 10:18am
I suspect it's because Cincinnati knew they were still very likely to play in the wildcard round, so playing in the only week 19 game meant they would enter the playoffs non-rested while their wildcard opponent would have a guaranteed week off. I think there is ample evidence that weeks off, not home field, is what matters most to players.
#54 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 08, 2023 - 12:20am
Yeah they aren't happy because it eliminates their chance at the 1 seed.
And the Bills of course aren't complaining because, well it helped them frankly. So, yeah there's evidence they don't like the actual outcome they were given. Opponent having a bye or not (in reality they wouldn't need to give them an entire week since they already play on less than a full weeks rest).
#31 by RickD // Jan 05, 2023 - 11:09pm
Nobody wanted to push the entire playoff schedule back a week. That would cause way too much chaos.
I wouldn't doubt that many fans of the Bills, Bengals, and Chiefs likely have booked hotel rooms for the Divisional Round.
#35 by Eddo // Jan 06, 2023 - 10:16am
While I doubt the league cares much about how many fans have already booked hotels for divisional round games, which (a) their teams might not make and (b) their teams would be hosting, so the need for hotels is lower, the fans who booked for "this game" (assuming that's BUF@CIN) already would have had their hotel stays and did use their tickets. They'd have to book a second night in a hotel if the game were to be continued.
#22 by KnotMe // Jan 05, 2023 - 7:14pm
I don't think so if they call it "no contest". That's actually one difference from calling it a tie. (I.e. if Burrow had some sort of contract incentive for TD or something, although the team would give it to him anyway I bet)
You could put them in for DVOA purposes but it says something when an event can make DATA ENTRY to depressing to think about.
#46 by sk57 // Jan 06, 2023 - 4:32pm
The NFL already had policy in place for a game cancellation for the 2022 season, and prior. In the case of a cancelled game, playoff seeding is determined by win percentage. The #1 seed plays at home for the conference championship. That's just a rule. Now, everybody's like well, maybe we can make a new rule because [insert rationale here]. If rules are changed during a season or during a game because of "fairness" or whatever, its not a game anymore. The content of the change is a nothing burger (you still have to win) but any change in playoff seeding rules at this point seems, shall we say, unsportsmanlike.
#48 by mrh // Jan 06, 2023 - 11:32pm
Try being commissioner of a fantasy league and changing the rules mid-season - especially one week before the playoffs. You'd guarantee that some owners would not return next year. Of course the differences between fantasy and reality are: 1) there is no other league to go to and 2) the commissioner of a fantasy league has more power over the owners than Goodell does.
Does anyone think if it was the Cowboys/Jones in place of the Bengals/Brown that there would be a coin flip option?
#50 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 07, 2023 - 1:03pm
I mean, the NFL rules also assume that once the injured player has been carted off the field the teams will resume and complete the game. The emergency was limited to Hamlin himself and once he was transported off the field, there was nothing physically preventing the other players from playing.
Of course, that would have been ghoulish so they didn't do it. But once you make the unprecedented decision to cancel a game that could have finished, following the rest of the rules to the letter punishes the teams for doing the sensible thing in the moment.
#56 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 08, 2023 - 11:06am
Not sure I agree with this. If we assume that it was the correct decision not to finish the game under the circumstances, then that's the correct decision, full stop. There's no value in saying "yeah, but they could have made the wrong decision about playing the game, therefore ..." There is no set of rules that say "here are the circumstances under which a game can be cancelled". It's open-ended. Either they made the right decision to cancel the game, or they didn't. Either the game was cancelled, or it wasn't.
Once the game is cancelled, it really doesn't matter why the game was cancelled, it was. Now the question is can the game be made up? That was the main decision faced by the league. I think they made the right decision in the circumstances to say 'no, there's not enough time left before the end of the season to play a game that only affects seeding'.
Where the league erred, in my opinion, is then not applying their rules as written and determining final standings based on winning percentage. All of these special "if this happens, then this applies ..." temporary rules they put in place don't make things fairer, they just demonstrate who has political power inside of the league office. The fair thing to do is to apply the rules as written, and if teams don't like it, they can argue in the offseason for a permanent change to the rules.
#58 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 08, 2023 - 6:16pm
If we assume that it was the correct decision not to finish the game under the circumstances, then that's the correct decision, full stop. There's no value in saying "yeah, but they could have made the wrong decision about playing the game, therefore ..." There is no set of rules that say "here are the circumstances under which a game can be cancelled". It's open-ended. Either they made the right decision to cancel the game, or they didn't. Either the game was cancelled, or it wasn't.
The "correct" decision under the rules was for the Bengals to send their offense back on the field and signal that they were ready to play. Buffalo could either field a defense or forfeit the game and that would have been that. The rules say that the games should be played to completion unless an emergency makes it "impossible" to continue and that was clearly not the case. The NFL deals with players being injured, even grievously injured, every single week.
They canceled the game due to the optics of continuing, and then tried to balance it after the fact. This is hardly the first time the NFL has made a decision based on the optics and then tried to clean it up afterwards.