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#pounditSunday, March 26, 2023

NFL reportedly considering multiple options for Bills-Bengals game

Roger Goodell at the podium

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks with the media. Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals were unable to finish their game on Monday night after defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. It is unclear how the NFL plans to proceed, but multiple options are reportedly being considered.

Hamlin tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter and quickly got to his feet. He then collapsed and had his heartbeat restored by medical personnel on the field, according to the Bills. The 24-year-old remained in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center as of Tuesday morning.

The NFL now must navigate a delicate situation. Fans and the media blasted the league over the handling of the postponement, but a determination has to be made one way or the other. There are a few different routes that could be taken, and one is pushing the entire season back a week.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted, the NFL postponed its entire season by a week following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There is typically a bye week between conference championship games and the Super Bowl, but that was eliminated in 2001. One option for the NFL would be to move the Bills-Bengals game to this coming weekend and push Week 18 and the entire remainder of the NFL schedule — except for the Super Bowl — back a week.

Another possibility the NFL could entertain is canceling the Bills-Bengals game altogether. Playoff seeding could then be determined by winning percentage, with Buffalo and Cincinnati having played one less game than the 30 other teams. Florio says the NFL was prepared to take that approach in 2020, when there was a risk of games being canceled due to the pandemic.

Everyone can agree that the NFL schedule comes second to Hamlin’s health. That does not change the fact that a decision will have to be made.

League officials will likely consult with the NFL Players Association, the Bills, and the Bengals before making a determination.


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