Bills/Bengals postponement, and which teams might get the short end of the stick
There was quite a bit riding on the outcome of the Bills vs Bengals game on Monday night, but after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest in the 1st-quarter that led to the game being postponed and possibly canceled all together, the playoff scenarios have been turned into a muddled question mark.
The Bills needed the win in order to hold onto the #1 seed in the AFC.
The Bengals were after the win in order to improve their playoff positioning, and possibly take over that #1 seed in the AFC.
If the Bills lost the game they would have dropped down to the #3 seed in the AFC going into week-18. They would have then needed to win and get losses by either the Bengals or Chiefs to improve their seeding. They could have still regained the #1 seed if they won and both the Chiefs and Bengals lost this weekend.
With a win on Monday night the Bengals would have moved-up into the #2 spot.
With a win and a Chiefs loss this weekend they could have taken over the #1 seed in the AFC, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
As it stands after the postponement, the Bills have dropped into the #2 seed because they have one less win then the Chiefs. They are 13-3 and the Chiefs are 14-3. The Chiefs now have a better winning percentage because of their extra win.
So, do the Bills end-up with the #2 seed and the real possibility of traveling to Kansas City for the AFC Championship game instead of playing that game in Buffalo if they had won on Monday night? That would be the short end of the stick to the Bills.
Do the Bengals just settle for the #3 seed knowing that they could have had the #2 seed with a win on Monday night? And, they could have had the #1 seed with a win on Monday night AND a win this weekend vs the Ravens AND a Chiefs loss this weekend.
The odds of the Chiefs losing to the Raiders in Vegas aren't very good, but I consider the Bengals with the short end of the stick after the Monday night postponement because they could have at least had a very reasonable shot at the #2 seed.
The Patriots playoff chances also take a hit if the Monday night postponed game isn't played. Had the Bills lost that game they would have fallen to the #3 seed with not much of a chance to get the #1 seed back.
If the Bills lost and the Chiefs then won their game vs the Raiders on Saturday this weekend, the Bills would have had no chance of reclaiming the #1 seed.
They could still grab the #2 seed with a win and a Bengals loss, but the Bengals will likely play their game at 1:00 on Sunday (game day and time TBD as of this writing), at the same time as the Bills.
The likely scenario is that the Bills will be fighting for a win vs the Patriots in Buffalo this weekend. Again, had the Bills lost on Monday night they may have felt their best option was to rest their starters vs the Patriots since the #3 seed was very likely where they would have ended-up anyways.
Now, the Patriots get the short end of the stick, since they will likely face a Bills team hungry for another "W" and the chance to regain the #1 seed or hold onto the #2 seed at the very least, instead of the real possibility that they could have rested their starters.
What about the Chiefs? They have a 13-3 record, The Bills are currently 12-3 since they are short one game due to the postponement on Monday night.
The Chiefs currently have a better win percentage and own the #1 seed.
But, the Chiefs lost to the Bills in week-6. Does the league give the #1 seed to the Bills because of that loss and the inability to play the postponed game? That would be the short end of the stick for the Chiefs.
Had the Bills lost that Monday night game to a really good Bengals team, the Chiefs would have only had to beat the Raiders this weekend and they would have owned the #1 seed heading into the playoffs.
If there are any teams that could benefit from the Monday night postponement it would be the Steelers or Dolphins.
Had the Bills won on Monday night they would have held onto the #1 seed in the AFC since they have the tie-breaker over the Chiefs due to their head-to-head win in week-6.
If the Chiefs lose to the Raiders on Saturday it would eliminate them from getting the #1 seed in the AFC. Thus, the Bills would have rested their starters for at least part of their game vs the Patriots, giving the Patriots a very good shot at a win and the last Wildcard spot that's up for grabs. The Steelers and Dolphins would have then been eliminated.
Now, with the Bills needing a win on Sunday the Patriots will likely get the Bills full effort, making the Patriots big underdogs in the game. Right now the Bills are 7.5-point favorites, and -320 on the money line.
If the Patriots lose to the Bills it opens the door for the Steelers and Dolphins.
If the Dolphins then beat the Jets at home they would take the last remaining playoff spot and bump the Patriots out of the playoffs.
If the Dolphins also lost, the Steelers would then get in with a win over the Browns at home on Sunday.
If the Patriots, Steelers, Titans and Dolphins all lose the Patriots would still hold onto that last playoff spot.
There is a lot riding on the potential outcome of that Monday night game, but if it's canceled all-together there will be some teams that benefit and some teams that are hurt by that decision. We'll have to wait to see who those teams are.