After much deliberation and debate, the NFL has come up with the most amicable solution for the AFC’s side of the playoffs.
Initial reactions to their decision haven’t been the most positive, and it seems to impact the Cincinnati Bengals the most negatively.
Cincy will be the AFC North champion, but won't have the benefits of being the champ (with a home playoff game), but will have a harder schedule next year, and potentially a later draft pick. It's not perfect, assume they are not pleased. Alas. https://t.co/eRexICjEiH
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2023
There is much to unpack from the NFL’s statements about the direction they have decided to go for the playoffs.
Let’s unpack what these decisions mean for the Bengals in particular.
On Sunday, the Bengals will play the Baltimore Ravens but will be given the title of AFC North champions, even if they lose that game.
The title of division champion is undoubtedly nice, but it usually comes with a perk that might not be granted to them on Sunday.
If the Ravens can beat the Bengals on Sunday, instead of the Bengals securing home-field advantage for the first game of the playoffs, the decision of home-field advantage will now be decided by a coin flip.
When deciding how the rest of the season will play out, there was never a perfect solution.
In any instance, some team would feel slighted, and in this case, it feels like the Bengals are the team that faces the greatest disadvantage.
However, none of this matters if the Bengals can take care of business on Sunday.
The Ravens will be without their star quarterback in Lamar Jackson.
Coming off of their emotional game on Monday night, the Bengals should have a lot of energy, which will hopefully propel them to victory, and will secure them home-field advantage for their first playoff game.