Bengals Playoffs: Every Bengals Playoff Scenario Heading Into Their Week 18 Showdown With the Ravens

While the Cincinnati Bengals still had a shot at clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the conference’s lone first-round bye heading into their Week 17 matchup with the Buffalo Bills, that option is no longer on the table heading into their regular-season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.

As everyone knows by now, the highly-anticipated Bengals-Bills showdown, which had significant implications pertaining to the NFL Playoffs, was suspended when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field. Thankfully, the 24-year-old has made significant progress throughout the week, and his health continues to be the most important thing.

With that said, the NFL had some tough decisions to make this week regarding football matters, one of which was declaring the Bengals-Bills matchup a no-contest. And it was that decision that took Cincinnati out of the running for the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye, which currently belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs.

In fact, under a new resolution approved by NFL owners on Friday, the Bengals playoffs picture could end up being decided by a coin toss.

Bengals playoffs: Every Bengals playoff scenario heading into Week 18

Cincinnati Bengals helmet
Cincinnati Bengals helmet | Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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While the NFL’s decision to declare Monday night’s game a no-contest took the Bengals out of the running for the No. 1 seed, it did make them AFC North champs for the second consecutive season as the Ravens, even with a win in Week 18, can’t catch Cincinnati in terms of winning percentage.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Bengals will host on Wild Card Weekend if they again match up with Baltimore. Per NFL.com, here’s one of the decisions that was made during Friday’s special session:

“If the Ravens (10-6) defeat Cincinnati in Week 18 and the Chargers (10-6) beat the Denver Broncos, and if Baltimore and Cincinnati 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.”

The Bengals were also included in the other big ruling of the day, one that says the AFC Championship Game could possibly be played at a neutral site if one of the following scenarios plays out:

  • Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both win or tie in Week 18 + both teams advance to the AFC title game
  • Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both lose + Cincinnati (11-4) also loses or ties in Week 18 + Buffalo and Kansas City advance to the AFC title game
  • Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both lose + Cincinnati (11-4) wins + the AFC title game is either Bills-Chiefs or Bengals-Chiefs

What isn’t mentioned in either of those rulings is that a Bengals win combined with a Bills loss to the New England Patriots earns Cincinnati the No. 2 seed in the AFC, which would get them a home playoff game no matter what, as the Ravens can’t fall below the No. 6 slot.

Easy enough, right?