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NFL botched the handling of Bengals-Bills divisional playoff game: Why it should be at a neutral site

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The NFL did a lot of things right after the frightening Damar Hamlin incident, but the league got it wrong in its decision to change the AFC playoffs.

If you’re going to make drastic changes in the postseason, you want to make sure it’s fair to everyone, but the NFL apparently forgot the Bengals existed because the playoff changes definitely didn’t fair to them.

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Another January 6 32 league owners voted for two new postseason rules it mostly affected only four teams (Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Ravens). Of those four teams, only one lost: the Bengals.

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Several owners seem to have realized that the new rules are unfair, which may explain why the proposal was passed with only ONE vote. To pass, 24 votes were required, and they scored 25 (according to on NBC SportsBengals, Bears and Dolphins voted against while Chiefs, Bills, Raiders and Chargers abstained).

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Here’s where the NFL got it wrong:

Bengals stay away

With the cancellation, the Bills lost control of the AFC No. 1 seed opportunity, so the NFL made up for it by giving them a chance to earn a game on a neutral ground if they made it to the AFC Championship. For Baltimore, the Ravens lost a chance to win the AFC North title, so the NFL made up for it by giving them a chance to play a wild card round playoff game, adding a coin toss clause, which the Bengals were strongly opposed to. .

For the Bengals, they lost control of a possible #2 seed, so the NFL made up for it by giving them…nothing.

It’s not exactly fair, and the league clearly knew it wasn’t fair because, according to Rich McKay, who is the tournament chairman, there was actually a LONG discussion in the NFL about moving a possible Bengals-Bills game to a neutral venue. the committee.

“Yes, there was (consideration of the Buffalo-Cincinnati no man’s land),” McKay said on Jan. 6. via USA today. “This was discussed in detail during a telephone conversation between the owners.”

So the NFL knew it was unfair and went along with the original proposal anyway. The league was poised to change its rules for the wildcard round (Ravens) and the AFC Championship (neutral ground), but decided to do nothing with the divisional round, so the third-place Bengals now play Buffalo. this weekend.

Let’s see how the Bengals react to this.

As for the Chiefs, they had nothing to complain about because the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals essentially gave them the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the AFC.

NFL explains scheduling disparities, but not all of them

When the NFL decided to change the rules, Roger Goodell mentioned that the league took into account one thing there was competitive inequality. Because the Bengals and Bills played the same number of games, the NFL decided not to add a provision that would give the Bengals a chance to earn a game on a neutral ground.

“This is a targeted approach that will only affect four teams and will directly eliminate the potential competitive disparity created by having 30 teams play 17 games and two play 16 games,” said Goodell.

Mike North, the NFL’s vice president of broadcast scheduling, also known as the person in charge of scheduling, echoed this sentiment.

“The fact that Buffalo and Sinsy never played, they’re going to have a different number of games played compared to Kansas City,” North said. “But when it comes to Buffalo and Cincinnati potentially playing each other in the divisional round of the playoffs, they have played the same number of games – they both played 16 games each. So there really wasn’t any talk of a coin toss regarding the host site.”

The problem with this comment is that the Bengals and Bills didn’t have an equal schedule. Yes, they’ve played the same number of games, but this year the Bengals have played nine road games and the Bills only eight. The visiting teams have only won .437 of their games this year, so playing one less away game is certainly an advantage, especially considering the away game the Bills didn’t play would have been arguably the toughest of the season.

There are always inequalities in every NFL schedule – for example, in international games – but they are discussed and agreed upon by each team before the start of the season. In this case, the NFL came up with a rule on the fly and enforced it, even though not all teams agreed with it.

How did the NFL offer end?

As for the Bills, they didn’t get a completely fair shake-up, but the NFL essentially gave them their own version of home advantage: If the Bills make it to the Super Bowl, they won’t have to play. single road game: they have to host the Dolphins in the wildcard round, they host the Bengals in the divisional round, and if they make it to the AFC title game, they will either host the Jaguars or play neutral. game site against the Chiefs.

As for the Bengals, the cancellation and playoff changes gave them a division title that had none of the perks of winning a division title because they weren’t even guaranteed a home game thanks to the NFL’s coin toss provision. Adding this, the Bengals were forced to play their starting XI in Week 18. This is notable because they ended up losing a key player (right-back Alex Kappa) to injury.

The coin toss provision was so absurd that Joe Mixon ridiculed it after scoring a touchdown against the Ravens in Week 18.

After receiving a fine of over $13,000, Mixon challenged Roger Goodell to a coin toss see who has to pay. Goodell didn’t answer.

In any case, if the NFL didn’t change anything at all and adhered to the rules that were in the book, everything would be decided by the percentage of wins. In that case, the Bengals will still be three-seeded, but they’ll be able to rest their starters in Week 18, meaning Kappa’s injury likely won’t happen.

The NFL doesn’t change the rules often, but when it does, it always has a negative impact on the Bengals. The last time the league made a major change to the rules of the playoffs, in what can be described as the strangest turn of events, was in the 1988 season, when the NFL changed the rules for the Bengals shortly before Cincinnati was set to play the Buffalo in the AFC. title game.

The bottom line is that the Bengalis have a deck against them this year and if they end up making another Super Bowl it will be even more impressive than the one they did last year.


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