The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals will not finish out their Week 17 game that was postponed Monday night, the NFL announced on Thursday.
Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati due to a cardiac arrest in the first quarter. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was brought to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he has spent the last three nights. On Thursday, it was announced that Hamlin had made “remarkable improvement” and that he was communicating with doctors through writing.
The NFL initially suspended the game before postponing it less than an hour later and announcing that Hamlin was in critical condition. The Bills departed Cincinnati after midnight and returned to Buffalo. On Tuesday, the league announced that the matchup would not resume this week and said no decision had been reached about whether the matchup would continue at all.
Buffalo is set to host the New England Patriots at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday for its regular season finale. Cincinnati is scheduled to host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The time of that game was originally to be determined based on the result of Monday night’s game against the Bills, but it was later scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.
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At 12-3, the Bills are a half-game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the top spot in the AFC. The 11-4 Bengals are 1.5 games up on the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and are currently the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
The league also announced the AFC Championship Game could be played at a neutral site depending on how the games play out.
Since each team now only has one game remaining, the Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday. The Bills would need a Chiefs loss and a win over the Patriots to earn a first-round bye.
The Week 17 cancellation locks up the AFC North for the Bengals. At 11-4, they are 1.5 games up on the Ravens with only their head-to-head matchup remaining. Baltimore would have had a chance to play for a division title on Sunday in Cincinnati if the Bengals had lost to the Bills.