The Ravens cannot win this season’s AFC North crown. They could, however, host the division champions in a playoff game next week.
The NFL announced Thursday night that Monday night’s Cincinnati Bengals-Buffalo Bills game — suspended after the collapse of Bills safety Damar Hamlin — will not be resumed, which creates an imbalance of schedules. Because of that, the NFL outlined a few scenarios, which have been approved in a vote by team owners. One involves the Ravens.
After the Ravens visit the AFC North champion Bengals in Sunday’s regular-season finale, Baltimore will have played 17 games, while Cincinnati will have played only 16. If the Ravens win that game, they’ll have a lower winning percentage than Cincinnati, but will have defeated the Bengals in both of this season’s meetings.
If the Ravens win and if they are scheduled to play the Bengals in the wild-card round of the playoffs, a coin flip will decide who will host the game, per the scenario.
However, if the Ravens move up to the No. 5 seed, setting up a matchup with the AFC South winner (either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans), no coin toss will be necessary.
“It wasn’t something as a coach we had time to be involved with,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of the updated playoff logistics. “The number one consideration was Damar Hamlin’s health and his family. ... Whatever they do is good with me personally, and we’re just excited to go play the game on Sunday.”
“I recognize that there is no perfect solution,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision to not play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”