After the NFL canceled the regular-season game between the Bills and Bengals following Damar Hamlin’s medical emergency, concessions were made that potentially helped the Ravens and the Bills.
For the Ravens, they were told that if they finished a half-game behind the Bengals in the standings and then faced the Bengals in the wild card round of the playoffs, a coin toss would determine whether that game would be played in Baltimore or Cincinnati . The thinking was that the Bengals might have lost that Bills game, and if so that would have deprived the Ravens of home-field advantage against the Bengals in the playoffs, so it was only fair to accommodate the Ravens. (The coin toss ended up not being necessary because the Bengals beat the Ravens in the regular-season finale.)
For Buffalo, they will get to play the AFC Championship Game on a neutral field, rather than in Kansas City, if the Bills and Chiefs both win this week. The thinking was that the Bills might have won that game against the Bengals, and if they had they would have earned home-field advantage ahead of the Chiefs, so it was only fair to accommodate them.
But no accommodation was made for the Bengals. If the Bengals had ended up winning the canceled game, which they led 7-3 in the first quarter at the time it was cancelled, this weekend’s Bills-Bengals game would be played in Cincinnati. Because it was cancelled, it’s being played in Buffalo.
Why not a neutral field for Bengals-Bills? Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations says that was under consideration but ultimately not proposed.
“There was some discussion,” Vincent said, via the Buffalo News“but the membership thought it was best for [only] the championship game to be at a neutral site.”
That answer won’t satisfy the Bengals, who voted against the NFL’s decision to change the rules for playoff home-field advantage. A neutral site or a coin flip just as easily could have been the method to determine Bengals-Bills home field, but the NFL simply decided to play the game in Buffalo, to the detriment of the Bengals.