Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks up at the scoreboard between plays in the fourth quarter during an NFL Week 5 game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Nfl Cincinnati Bengals At Baltimore Ravens Oct 9 0333

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Owners approve AFC neutral site playoff proposals

Neutral site AFC playoff proposals were approved by NFL owners in a 30-minute Zoom call on Friday.

A total of 24 votes for approving the proposal were required; 25 voted yes, according to NFL Network.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the plan was designed to “mitigate certain competitive effects in the AFC playoffs resulting from two clubs playing fewer regular-season games.”

But the Cincinnati Bengals, who could have the site of their wild-card playoff game decided by a coin flip, argue the league ignored existing rules that state win-loss record determines playoff position in the event of a cancellation.

“There’s several instances this season where the club is fined or people in our building are fined and we are being told to follow the rules. It’s black and white in the rulebook,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said Friday. “So, now, when we point out the rules and you are told, ‘We are going to change that,’ I don’t want to hear about fair and equitable when that is the case.”

NFL owners passed all proposals on Friday, including “if (a) Baltimore defeats Cincinnati in the game between the two clubs scheduled for Sunday, January 8, 2023; and (b) Baltimore and Cincinnati are scheduled to play against one another in a Wild Card Game the following weekend, the site of the game will be determined by a coin toss supervised by the Commissioner. Unless both conditions are met, the site of any Wild Card Game involving Baltimore and Cincinnati shall be determined per Article XX of the Constitution and Bylaws. Irrespective of where a Wild Card game between Baltimore and Cincinnati is played, all teams will retain their seeding as determined by the regular season winning percentage throughout the playoffs and for other competitive determinations.”

As a result of the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game halted Monday when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin experienced a cardiac arrest on the field, the Bills and Bengals will have their postseason positions determined based on their winning percentage for a 16-game season rather than the 17-game slot played by all other NFL teams.

Additionally, the AFC Championship game would be played at a neutral site if the home team for that contest ordinarily would have been settled in part by the result of the now-canceled game.

“This has been a very difficult week,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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.”

By announcing the decision on the fate of the halted game prior to the Week 18 slate that will conclude the regular season on Sunday, the NFL said that all teams now will enter their finales knowing exactly what scenarios are in play.

The AFC title game would be played at a neutral site if any of three possibilities occur:

–If Buffalo (12-3) and Kansas City (13-3) both win or tie this weekend, a Bills-Chiefs championship game would be held at a neutral site.

–If the Bills and Chiefs both lose this weekend and the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) win or tie, a Buffalo-Kansas City championship game would be played at a neutral site.

–If the Bills and Chiefs both lose and Bengals win, Buffalo-Kansas City or Cincinnati-Kansas City AFC title game would be held at a neutral site.

Cincinnati (11-4) can avoid a coin flip by beating the Ravens.

A Baltimore win and season sweep of Cincinnati would also give the teams the same number of wins, but the Bengals would have fewer losses. Should those teams wind up facing off in a wild-card game — to be determined by complete game results this week — a coin toss then determines the home team of only that game.

The site of any other wild-card game involving either of those teams would be determined per standard procedure.

“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” Goodell said in a statement. “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.”

–Field Level Media

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