As Chris Simms and I talked through the various approaches to concluding the 2022 regular season, we strongly agreed that Bills-Bengals should not be finished. It should be declared a “no contest,” and playoff seeding should be determined based on winning percentage.
There are two problems with this approach. First, it delivers the AFC North title to the Bengals, even if they lose to the Ravens on Sunday, for the second time this season. Second, it hands the top seed in the AFC to the Chiefs, if Kansas City beats the Raiders in a Week 18 game currently scheduled for Saturday.
That seems extremely unfair to the Bills, who needed to win their final two games to become the top seed in the AFC — and to force the Chiefs to come to Buffalo in the playoffs. But it’s also unfair to expect the Chiefs to just give up the top seed and the bye week that goes along with it.
So here’s a compromise. The Chiefs get the bye, but if the Bills and the Chiefs qualify for the AFC Championship, the game is played at a neutral site.
The Chiefs would have to offer it, and the league would have to approve it. The approach would minimize the sort-of asterisk that would attach to Kansas City getting the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium for the third straight year in the postseason, if the Chiefs win.
Possible neutral sides include Detroit, Minnesota, and Indianapolis, if the goal is to avoid the elements. Places like Green Bay, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh become an option, if the teams and the league want weather to be a potential factor.
2 - CHIEFS
They haven’t looked right the past few weeks, but they are finding ways to win games. They have to be better come playoff time.
In light of the Damar Hamlin incident we will not have our normal New Heights episode today— New Heights (@newheightshow) January 4, 2023
Instead @jasonkelce and @tkelce took time to offer their thoughts & prayers to Damar and his family, and share their honest reactions as fellow NFL players https://t.co/zhx48kIYqJ pic.twitter.com/7zg5H6Evi4
1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3)
Week 17 ranking: 1
Highest power ranking: 1
Lowest power ranking: 4
Regular season in five words or fewer: Top of AFC West again
The Chiefs won their seventh straight AFC West title, but it wasn’t as easy as it might have looked. The Chiefs are 5-0 in divisional contests heading into the final regular-season game against the Raiders — they won all five games by six or fewer points. The Chiefs have played five games against opponents that currently have four or fewer wins, and they lost one and won three by six or fewer points. The Chiefs are still to be feared in the postseason, as Patrick Mahomes has passed for more than 5,000 yards and is having an MVP-type season. — Adam Teicher
5. Kansas City Chiefs 24-27 Cincinnati Bengals (Week 13)
Joe Burrow got yet another victory over fellow star QB Patrick Mahomes on week 13 as the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in Ohio.
Mahomes and the Chiefs led 24-20 early in the final quarter before Travis Kelce’s fumble set up a flawless 53-yard drive from Burrow, completing 6 of 7 passes and throwing an eight-yard touchdown to Chris Evans.
Burrow threw for 286 yards on the day with two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, edging out Mahomes with 223 yards and one touchdown.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Siaki Ika DL
BAYLOR • JR • 6’4” / 358 LBS
The Chiefs get a menacing, wide-bodied interior rusher to pair with Chris Jones.
Around the NFL
An online toy fundraiser set up by Hamlin in 2020 has received more than $6 million in donations since the postponement of Monday’s game.
Hamlin originally set up a GoFundMe with a goal of raising $2,500 to buy toys that would be distributed at Kelly and Nina’s Daycare Center in his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania.
There have been more than 200,000 donations to the GoFundMe account.
The Bills released the following statement regarding Damar Hamlin as of Wednesday, January 4 at 1:30 pm.
“Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight. He is expected to remain under intensive care as his health care team continues to monitor and treat him.”
The Washington Commanders reversed course and will start rookie quarterback Sam Howell in Sunday’s regular-season finale vs. the Dallas Cowboys, coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday.
Until late Wednesday morning, the Commanders were strongly leaning toward starting Taylor Heinicke and having Howell play in relief, according to multiple sources. Carson Wentz will be inactive.
The expectation about which QB would start for Washington shifted from Heinicke to Howell late in the morning, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, as Heinicke endorsed to coaches that Howell was deserving of the opportunity. Other players also endorsed wanting to see Howell.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The move had to be made before 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Wednesday, or else Hardman would have had to remain on Reserve/Injured for the rest of the season.
To make room for Hardman on the roster, Kansas City has waived offensive lineman Geron Christian.
Hardman has not played since the Week 9 game against the Tennessee Titans. After being declared out in Week 10 with an abdomen injury, the Week 11 injury report initially designated Hardman as out of practice with “abdomen/illness.” Then on November 17, he was placed on the team’s Reserve/Injured list.
On December 14, he was designated to return from Reserve/Injured, opening a 21-day window in which he could practice with the team and eventually be activated to the roster. At the beginning of last week, the Chiefs were optimistic that this would happen before the Week 17 game against the Denver Broncos. But then Hardman suffered a setback, causing him to miss yet another game.
In eight games this season, Hardman has 25 receptions for 295 yards and four touchdowns, along with four rushes for 31 yards and two scores.