Bengals-Ravens coin flip drama: How a Baltimore win could result in unprecedented scenario over AFC playoff venue

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
QBs Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow

The Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are set to face off in a potentially pivotal matchup for the AFC playoff picture in Week 18 of the 2022 NFL season. Depending on the outcome of this crucial game, the NFL world could see an unprecedented move that directly affects home-field advantage rules in the NFL playoffs this year.

If the Ravens defeat the Bengals this week, they would finish with a 11-6 record with two victories over their AFC North divisional rivals. The Bengals would fall to a 11-5 record, but would still hold on to the top spot in the division. This is because they would have played one fewer game than the Ravens. If the Bengals had played all 17 of their games and lost to the Buffalo Bills in their game that was canceled, the Ravens would be the division champs.

The game was initially postponed following a tragic injury to Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin. It was officially canceled a couple of days later.

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If the Bengals had defeated the Bills, they would have clinched the AFC North division, regardless of their Week 18 outcome. This is also true if the Bengals defeat the Ravens this week, as they would gain a 1.5 game advantage with just one incomplete game. The Bills and Begals Week 17 game officially being canceled with no chance of it being made up in the future creates a unique situation this week for the Ravens and Bengals playoff outlook.

How the NFL will solve a unique dilemma in the AFC playoff picture

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

To keep things relatively fair and maintain a competitive balance to the best of the NFL's ability, they have modified the rules for this specific situation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's front office have announced that, if the Ravens earn a victory in Week 18 against the Bengals and the two teams happen to meet again in the AFC playoffs, the home team will be determined by a coin flip, literally.

The Ravens will remain a Wild Card team, while the Bengals are already the official division champions. This can't be changed in Week 18, regardless of any other results that may occur. The Bengals will be the home team against any other opponent in the Wild Card Round, while the Ravens will be the road team.

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The Ravens can only earn a home game by defeating the Bengals this week, getting matched up against them in the Wild Card round, and winning an unprecedented coin flip for the home field. Any other outcome will put them on the road next week for the first round of the AFC Playoffs.

This situation is also the only way the Bengals will go on the road in the first round. Their status as AFC North division champions will allow them a home game in the Wild Card round with any other possible outcome.

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Edited by Windy Goodloe