Before the Cincinnati Bengals took the field for a Monday night game against the Buffalo Bills, they were still in contention for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. A win over the Bills that night paired with a win over Baltimore in Week 18 and a Chiefs loss to the Raiders would have given Cincinnati home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Well, that can all be thrown out the window with the NFL's new playoff scenarios. The Bengals no longer have a shot at obtaining the No .1 seed in the AFC and while they did ensure that the AFC North would be theirs, it's not necessarily a good thing in this case because even with the division title, they're still not guaranteed a home playoff game!
Here are the scenarios, per Ian Rapoport.
Bengals got the short end of the stick
Since this nightmare occurred on Monday night, a saying that had been going around concerning the playoffs was that "someone is going to get the short end of the stick". Well, that someone is the Bengals.
Not only can Cincinnati not win the No. 1 seed now, but if they happen to lose to Baltimore on Sunday (they shouldn't but ya know, any given Sunday and all that), they might not even get to host a playoff game in the Wild Card round. If it ended up being Cincinnati vs Baltimore in the wild card round, the two would flip a coin to determine who gets to host the game. Excuse me -- WHAT?
Hopefully that's not even something we have to entertain though because the Bengals should beat the Ravens on Sunday. If they don't, then that's a bigger problem and one that I don't really care to dive into (and hopefully won't have to).
Another big issue with this situation is that the stripes have no shot at the No. 1 seed now. The NFL pretty much declared them the loser in the Week 17 game that was ruled a no-contest, so much so that there's no scenario for the Bengals to host the Bills or the Chiefs in a later round of the playoffs. The Bengals and Ravens have to flip a coin if the stripes lose this weekend -- Why shouldn't the Chiefs or Bills have to flip a coin if they lose this weekend in that case?
Furthermore, if the Bills and Chiefs have to face each other on a neutral site, why shouldn't either of those teams have to face Cincinnati on a neutral site? Why would Buffalo get to be the home team? Make it make sense!
Look, I know coming up with any kind of scenario here wasn't an easy task. This is something we hadn't seen before (fortunately) but it most definitely feels as though the Bengals got punished despite doing the right thing. They could have been soulless and forced the game to continue but they did the right thing and now it feels as though they got screwed over the most.
Maybe we see some changes to this format when it's voted on but for now, Bengals fans have every reason to be upset with the playoff scenario.