The regular season ends Sunday, The playoffs start Saturday. Unless one of them overtakes KC for top seed in the AFC, they’ll both play in the first round, unless they push the entire playoffs back a week and play Bills-Bengals as a solo game on Jan. 14 or 15. Or have them play each other Sunday and play their final games on the 14th or 15th.
There is precedent for taking out the off week between the conference finals and the Supe. They could finish the regular season on the 15th, start the playoffs on the 21st and still leave Supe where it is.
There are a lot of ramifications if the game is not finished… for example, if Buffalo wins and the Dolphins lose this weekend, the Steelers would get in the playoffs. I’m sure the ripple effect of not playing leaves other teams happy or penalized.
Bills-Bengals game has been cancelled. No matter how the ramifications of the cancellation affects the playoffs, someone is not going to be happy. There will be no clear cut 100% answer to how the playoffs will be played.
NFL cited three factors that went into this decision:
The outcome would have no bearing on which teams qualified for the postseason; Bills and Bengals are both in.
Playing the game would have altered the playoff schedule for the remaining teams.
Not playing the game would allow all clubs to know the postseason possibilities before the start of Week 18.
There is a possibility of a neutral site for the AFC Championship game, depending on what happens this weekend. If Buffalo and KC both win or tie this weekend, a Bills-Chiefs title game would be at a neutral site. Same if Buff and KC both lose and Baltimore wins or ties (Baltimore plays at Cincy). If Buffalo and KC both lose and Cincy wins, a KC title game against either one would be at a neutral site. The owners will vote today on approving these scenarios. That neutral site has not been determined; you would think it would be a dome somewhere, maybe Indy or even St. Louis.
However if Buffalo wins and KC loses, the Bills are the 1 seed and get the bye and there would be no neutral site needed. If Buffalo and KC both win, KC gets the bye but the neutral sites are in play.