When the NFL released its Week 18 schedule on Monday, it left one TBD slot for the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. The determination on whether or not the game would kick at 10 AM PT or 1:25 PM PT was dependent on the outcome of the Bengals’ Monday night matchup with the Buffalo Bills, which was suspended following Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest.
With no decision yet on whether Bills-Bengals will be resumed, the league announced on Wednesday that the Ravens-Bengals will air at 10 AM PT, simultaneously with the New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills.
This is an important decision to note because the Los Angeles Chargers play the Denver Broncos at 1:25 PM PT, and the Chargers are still playing for the #5 seed and a road game against the AFC South champion. If the Ravens lose to the Bengals, the Chargers already have the #5 seed secured. If the Bengals lose then they would be 11-5 but the Ravens would still be behind Cincinnati in the AFC North race given Cincinnati has obviously played one fewer game. In theory that means the Chargers could still be inclined to play starters.
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley told media on Wednesday that the outcome of the Ravens-Bengals will inform them of how they’ll approach the Broncos game.
HC Brandon Staley indicated the result of the Ravens game Sunday will impact how the #Chargers approach their regular-season finale vs. Denver. In other words, if they don't have to win some regulars won't play much or not at all.— Jeff Miller (@JeffMillerLAT) January 4, 2023
Brandon Staley on how the #Chargers will approach Sunday's game in respect to the starters: "You got to take the facts on the ground as they happen in real time to make your determinations. Once we find out about that game (Ravens-Bengals) we'll make the appropriate decisions."— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) January 4, 2023
Of course, the 2023 Broncos first-round pick that belongs to the Seahawks sits at 3rd overall, but it could drop to 5th if Denver wins and the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts lose their respective games. The Rams’ pick that belongs to the Detroit Lions cannot surpass Denver based on the Strength of Schedule tiebreaker, so that’s not a worry.
A Denver loss to the Chargers guarantees that Seattle will pick at least 3rd overall and possibly 2nd if the Nathan Peterman-led Chicago Bears wanna mess around and beat the Minnesota Vikings, but I doubt that happens. In theory, an increasingly healthier Chargers team should be able to handle the Broncos. But if they’re already locked into the 5th seed, is anyone willing to trust Chase Daniel or Easton Stick to deliver the W? I don’t know about that.
We’ll see how this unfolds, but don’t be surprised if the Seahawks’ Denver pick ends up dropping a spot or two down the draft order. And besides, this ain’t the scheduling decision related to the Seahawks worth complaining about...