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The cancellation of the Week 17 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals forced the NFL to make some difficult decisions regarding the AFC playoff situation. But many in the Cincinnati camp, including head coach Zac Taylor, are not thrilled with the league’s resolution.
In an arrangement announced Friday, the Bengals will be the AFC North champions because they have a higher winning percentage than the Baltimore Ravens. However, should the Ravens beat the Bengals in their Week 18 matchup and if the two teams meet again on Wild Card Weekend, the site of their playoff game will be determined by a coin toss.
So even with a division title in hand, the Bengals might have to go on the road to start the Playoffs. The Ravens’ Twitter account had a little fun with it.
Coach Taylor was not amused.
“There’s several instances this season where the club is fined or people in our building are fined and we are being told to follow the rules,” Taylor said. “It’s black and white in the rulebook. So now, when we point out the rules and you are told we are going to change that, I don’t want to hear about fair and equitable when that is the case.”
In a statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that “there is no perfect solution.” He emphasized how their driving principles had been to limit disruption across the league.
Other Bengals’ players and personnel have also expressed their grievances.
Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn — who is on the NFL’s competition committee — urged the committee to vote against the proposal.
“The proper process for making rule changes is in the off-season,” she wrote in a memo. “It is not appropriate to put teams in a position to vote for something that may introduce bias, favor one team over another or impact their own situation when the vote takes place immediately before the playoffs.”
Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon also criticized the league’s decision.
The Ravens and Bengals kick off in Cincinnati at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. And whether Coach Taylor & Co. like it or not, their playoff home field advantage could very well be determined by a coin toss.
Of course, if the Bengals just win, they don’t have to worry about any of this.