NFL Approves Playoff Rule Changes

In the wake of the unprecedented cancellation of Monday Night Football's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL has officially enacted rule changes regarding playoff standings for the upcoming postseason. The league's 32 owners met today and approved the measures earlier today. The ruling of Monday's game as a no-contest due to the tragic incident suffered by Bills safety Damar Hamlin turned the AFC standings completely on their head under the former rules, which prioritized winning percentage. The Bills would have likely surrendered their top seed (and all its advantages) to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Bengals would have been robbed of any opportunity of snatching it away from the Chiefs. 

Both the Bills and Bengals hold tiebreakers over the Chiefs by merit of victories in Week 6 and Week 13, but the reduced schedule invalidated any opportunity to match the Chiefs' record. Under the new structure, the Chiefs will maintain the top seed (and its bye), but the AFC Championship game will take place on a neutral field should particular criteria be met.

The NFL's decision certainly won't satisfy all parties, but they appear to have made a sincere attempt at fairness. All three teams have been robbed of the best-case scenario but saved from the worst. The Chiefs have somewhat luckily stumbled into a bye, but they've sacrificed a potential home game. The Bills have lost home-field advantage and a bye, but they've been spared some of the consequences they'd have suffered had they lost to the Bengals. The Bengals have lost any chance at the top seed, but they'll still have a chance at winning the AFC North, even with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

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