NFL Will Not Resume Bills-Bengals Game After Damar Hamlin Injury – How Does This Affect Playoffs?

Buffalo Bills players huddle and pray after teammate Damar Hamlin
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The NFL has outright canceled the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game that was suspended on Monday night after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field, leading to his hospitalization.

After speaking with both teams and the NFL Players Association, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the news. “This has been a very difficult week,” Goodell said in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter).

He added, “We continue to focus on the recovery of Damar Hamlin and are encouraged by the improvements in his condition as well as the tremendous outpouring of support and care for Damar and his family from across the country. We are also incredibly appreciative of the amazing work of the medical personnel and commend each and every one of them.”

Hamlin collapsed toward the end of the first quarter during Monday’s game and was administered CPR on the field. He was then transported to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition. On Thursday, January 5, the Bills released a statement revealing Hamlin has shown “remarkable improvement.”

Goodell promised that the game’s cancelation would not affect the playoffs, ruling out the possibility of rescheduling to fit the Bills-Bengals game in, as that would affect the other 14 playoffs teams.

“Making the decision prior to Week 18 is consistent with our competitive principles and enables all clubs to know the playoff possibilities prior to playing the final weekend of regular season games,” he continued.

While a team’s record usually determines who has home advantage, the cancelation of Monday’s game has obviously thrown a wrench into those plans. As the Bills and Bengals will have played one less game than the other playoffs teams, the NFL is considering holding the AFC Championship Game at a neutral site.

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell stated. “I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”