The NFL will not resume the Bills-Bengals game that was suspended Monday night after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league is still figuring out how to determine playoff seedings and scheduling. The NFL Players Association must approve changes that would require additional work for players.
Hamlin has shown what physicians treating him are calling “remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the team announced Thursday, three days after the 24-year-old player had to be resuscitated on the field.
The Bills-Bengals game had major playoff implications for the AFC. Determining next steps is an exhaustive process and the league is considering various scenarios.
A decision is expected no later than Friday.
Buffalo (12-3) entered Monday night needing a win to maintain the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) now hold that spot. The Bengals (11-4) had a chance to earn that top seed with two more wins and a loss by the Chiefs.
Seedings could be determined by winning percentage. In that case, the Chiefs would remain in the top spot with a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.
The Bills lost a thrilling overtime game at Kansas City in the divisional round last year. They beat the Chiefs 24-20 in Kansas City in October to earn a tiebreaker advantage for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Adding an eighth playoff team to the field in both conferences and giving the top two teams a first-round bye is perhaps the most intriguing among the many possibilities.
DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA executive director, said the league hasn’t presented that proposal.
“An eighth playoff team would mean extra work for the players,” Smith said. “The union bargains for wages, hours and working conditions. That would increase the hours of the eighth team. It would be a necessary condition of bargaining.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) are among the teams that would be impacted by an additional playoff team. The Steelers must beat Cleveland on Sunday and need losses by Miami and New England to clinch a playoff spot that seemed unlikely when they began the season 2-6. Adding an eighth playoff team would give Pittsburgh a little more wiggle room to reach the postseason for the third straight year.
“That works for us,” Steelers inside linebacker Myles Jack said. “That would be good. To get another chance to get up in there so it increases our odds. I’m all for it. That’s up to them. That’d be pretty cool.”