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Buffalo Bills undecided about playing Week 18, all scheduling contingencies being considered

The Buffalo Bills are set to host the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon in Western New York to conclude the NFL regular season.

Following Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s tragic injury in Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL is weighing all options that could include postponing the game.

After having suffered cardiac arrest, Hamlin remains in critical condition. While his family says his condition is improving, the on-field aspect to this situation is still unsettled. The game against the Bengals was suspended and the status of that game has not been determined.

In a conference call with the media on Wednesday, NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent indicated there’s been no discussion with the Bills about either resuming Monday’s game in Week 18 or taking on the Patriots in their normally-scheduled season finale. Per Vincent, the “Bills have been focused solely on Damar Hamlin’s well-being and the mental health of all involved with the Bills.”

Vincent also indicated that “everything is being considered” when it comes to Week 18 scheduling contingencies. The NFL announced earlier this week that Week 18 would go on as planned. But it’s unclear how that would work if the Bills are unable to play their game against New England.

Related: Buffalo Bills standing in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Buffalo Bills schedule options

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Miller joined Vincent on Wednesday’s conference call. He indicated that “conversations remain ongoing about whether or not the Bills-Bengals will ever be played.”

This might be the most-likely scenario. Assuming the NFL cancels this came completely, it could realistically seed teams based on winning percentages with the Bengals and Bills playing one fewer game than the other 30 teams.

In this scenario, Cincinnati would have clinched the AFC North. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs would earn the No. 1 seed in the conference with a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.

While this is not ideal for multiple teams heading into the playoffs, it’s clear we’re in unchartered waters at this point. As Vincent noted, there’s no “playbook” for this.

Everything depends on Hamlin’s health and whether his Bills can actually take to the field Sunday against New England. If that doesn’t happen, things could get more convoluted.