To say this has been a trying week for the Buffalo Bills would obviously be a massive understatement, given the frightening scene that played out this past Monday night with second-year safety Damar Hamlin.
The 24-year-old, of course, went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field in the first quarter of the Bills’ highly anticipated showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals, a game that was rightfully suspended and has since been declared a no-contest by the NFL.
Thankfully, Hamlin has improved throughout the week and was even able to speak to his teammates on Friday, telling them he loved them in what had to be quite an emotional and touching scene.
While Hamlin’s progress remains the most important thing, the Bills are getting back to business as they prepare for their season finale with the New England Patriots.
Of course, things have gotten a bit complicated as it pertains to the top seed in the AFC, along with its accompanying first-round bye and home-field advantage, following the NFL’s ruling on Friday as Buffalo (12-3) and Cincinnati (11-4) have now officially played one fewer game than the Kansas City Chiefs, who enter Week 18 in the No. 1 slot with a 13-3 record.
Entering Week 17, it was the Bills who owned the top spot due to their Week 6 win over Kansas City. And they can still clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage, but they now no longer control their own destiny.
Bills playoffs: How the Bills clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in Week 18
On Friday, NFL owners approved a resolution that could potentially affect the AFC Playoffs if certain results play out during this final week of the regular season and beyond. And that includes the possibility of the AFC title game being played at a neutral site of Roger Goodell’s choosing if that comes into play.
But we’ll come back to that in a minute.
Despite playing one fewer game than Kansas City, the Bills can clinch the No. 1 seed, a first-round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs if one of these two scenarios plays out:
- Bills win vs. Patriots + Chiefs lose or tie vs. Raiders
- Bills tie vs. Patriots + Chiefs lose vs. Raiders
You’ll notice that there isn’t a scenario in which the Bills and Chiefs both yield the same result. And that’s where the new resolution comes into play. The Bengals are back in the mix here as well. Per NFL.com, here are the scenarios in which the AFC title game would be played at a neutral site:
- Buffalo and Kansas City both win or tie in Week 18 + both teams advance to the AFC title game
- Buffalo and Kansas City both lose + Cincinnati also loses or ties in Week 18 + Buffalo and Kansas City advance to the AFC title game
- Buffalo and Kansas City both lose + Cincinnati wins + the AFC title game is either Bills-Chiefs or Bengals-Chiefs
Simply put, Bills Mafia will be rooting for a Buffalo win and a Kansas City loss — just as they likely would have been doing anyway.