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Here’s what Bills-Bengals cancellation and NFL playoff adjustments mean for Dolphins


The NFL announced Thursday night it will not resume the Monday night game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

The canceled game, which was originally postponed after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and was hospitalized due to cardiac arrest suffered at Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium, had significant AFC playoff implications.

A league announcement on Thursday night provided clarity on what that means for the AFC playoff picture.

The Kansas City Chiefs are now the No. 1 seed after the Bills lost their chance to hold on to the conference’s top spot. The Bills are now No. 2 with the Bengals remaining at 3.

What does that mean for the Miami Dolphins?

Their Week 18 playoff scenarios remain the same heading into Sunday. The Dolphins still need a win over the New York Jets in a 1 p.m. kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium and for the New England Patriots to lose at the Bills at the same time.

What is now simplified with the latest development is which team the Dolphins will visit in the wild card round should they qualify for the postseason.

Should Miami, which can only get in at No. 7 in the AFC, get the two results it needs and the Chiefs win against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, the Dolphins will face the No. 2 Bills in Buffalo.

If the Chiefs lose while the Dolphins get those two results, Miami visits Kansas City, which would fall to No. 2 in that scenario.

The league cited three factors for not finishing the Bills-Bengals game: the outcome would have no effect on which teams qualify for the postseason; playing the game would alter the playoff schedule for all 14 qualifying teams; and not playing the game would allow all clubs to know their postseason scenarios before their regular-season finales.

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With the decision having implications on the AFC’s top seed, the NFL could play a neutral-site AFC Championship Game in certain scenarios which could’ve flipped seeding with a Bills-Bengals result.

The Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye with a win Saturday, but they still may play a neutral-site AFC title game if Buffalo also wins and the two meet for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl.

The Bills would still have the No. 2 seed to secure on Sunday against New England, plus they could force that neutral-site scenario for the AFC Championship round.

The Bengals could force that same scenario if they win against the Baltimore Ravens and the Chiefs and Bills both lose. Cincinnati, while clinching the AFC North before its Week 18 home game against Baltimore, could now have the site of a potential first-round meeting with the Ravens decided by a coin flip. This occurs if the Bengals lose to Baltimore and they meet in a No. 3 vs. No. 6 wild card-round game.

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