Here are three scenarios experts say the NFL could consider to finish Buffalo’s regular-season

The Bills' regular-season could end in a number of ways. Here's how experts think it may play out.

As of Thursday morning, it is unclear how the Buffalo Bills’ regular season will finish.

Buffalo’s Monday night matchup with Cincinnati was stopped in the first quarter after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and had to be resuscitated on the field by medical professionals after suffering cardiac arrest.

The league said that the Buffalo-Cincinnati game will not be played this week. It has not announced a decision on whether the game will be made up at all.

The NFL plans to move forward with its Week 18 schedule, which has the Bills hosting the Patriots on Sunday.

The Bills released a statement on Thursday stating that Hamlin has made “remarkable improvement” over the last 24 hours.


“While still critically ill, he has demonstrated that he appears to be neurologically intact. His lungs continue to heal and he is making steady progress,” the statement read.

As the Bills attempt to navigate this situation, here are a few options the NFL could have as it attempts to finalize the remainder of the Bills’ regular-season.

Play the New England game, but cancel the Cincinnati game.

With the Bills already scheduled to play New England during the final week of the regular season there’s a chance the NFL could drop the Buffalo-Cincinnati game altogether.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that signs are “pointing in that direction” as momentum builds for the game to be cancelled.

“Current momentum is pointing toward not resuming the Bills-Bengals game and declaring it a no contest,” Florio wrote on Wednesday. “Playoff seeding then would be determined based on the outcome of the Week 18 games.”

Play the New England game, move the Cincinnati game.

Another option, said NFL Network’s Ian Rapport, would be to push the playoffs back a week.

“This is something that was discussed during the COVID situations from a couple years ago, if they had to,” Rapport said. “It never came to it, but if they had to. Have a standalone, one-game weekend and play Bills-Bengals in Week 19, move the playoffs back a week, eliminate the essential bye week between the Super Bowl and title games and move on from there.”


Florio said that while he thinks it is unlikely the game will be played, he has heard a scenario which involves playing the Bills-Bengals game during wild card weekend being discussed.

“First week of the playoffs, NFC wild card, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5, plus Bills-Bengals,” Florio said on the Rich Eisen Show. “Then you’ve got the AFC playoff tree. Next week of the playoffs, AFC wild card only, three games. The following week everyone plays the divisional round, then the conference championships, then the Super Bowl with no two-week lag between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.”

Cancel both games.

According to the team’s statement Hamlin’s health is improving, and the Bills returned to team meetings on Wednesday.

But, the situation remains fluid and NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Wednesday that the league hasn’t ruled out canceling the Patriots-Bills game.

He said Bills players and coaches will have input if discussions around postponing the game need to happen.

But, that was before Buffalo’s latest update. If all goes to plan, the game will be played.


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