Is The NFL's Post-Season Decision Fair?
After Damar Hamlin's Injury, The NFL reached a plan for the NFL Post-season
The new year brought a new shock to the system for football fans around the world and even those of us here at NFL 33. Thankfully, Hamlin is recovering, awake and communicating with his teammates.
Still, the NFL needed a plan.
In the wake of the injury to Damar Hamlin, questions have needed to be asked. First, the game in which he was injured between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills has been canceled, meaning there will be no outcome for either team in that contest. They will each play effectively a 16-game season, while the rest of the AFC field will play a 17-game season.
The central challenge had been the resolution of how the post-season could move forward. No solution could be perfect, but as a league and for the Teams, coaches, players and fans, it has to maximize one thing: competitive equity. It had to be as fair as it could be.
No plan is perfect.
“all teams will retain their seeding as determined by the regular season winning percentage throughout the playoffs and for other competitive determinations.”
NFL 2023 Resolution G-1
Today the NFL made an imperfect but crucial plan for the NFL Post-season. Teams will be seeded by their winning percentage, and if the AFC championship has a team that could have been the top seed had that game been completed, the game will be moved to a neutral site. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL league office will determine that site if this scenario plays out.
If the AFC's top three teams all finish with a week 18 victory, the final seedings will be:
The Buffalo Bills can force the AFC championship game to be played on a neutral field by making it to the AFCCG game. Otherwise, the AFC path to the Super Bowl runs through Kansas City, including the AFC championship game.
No plan is perfect, and in the end, neither is this one.
However, this is as close as it can get, given the circumstances. The Bills will not have to play an AFC Championship Game in Kansas City in 2023. The Bengals will not have to beat the Bills twice to get to the Super Bowl. And the Chiefs will not host the AFC Championship Game against the Bills, although they will reap the benefits of a first-round bye.
This is as good a plan as any in this one-of-a-kind post-season.