Where Things Stand With Patriots, Bills Amid Week 18 Uncertainty

Both teams practiced Wednesday


Jan 4, 2023

As of right now, the Patriots and Bills are scheduled to play this Sunday afternoon in a game that carries substantial playoff implications.

But could things change between now and then? We still have no idea.

With Bills safety Damar Hamlin still in critical condition — but improving — in a Cincinnati hospital, many are wondering whether New England and Buffalo will play their Week 18 matchup at Highmark Stadium as scheduled. Multiple theories have been floated, including the game being pushed to Monday, delayed a week or canceled outright.

Although the uncertain status of the postponed Bengals-Bills game has generated most of the national headlines, the fate of Sunday’s matchup in Buffalo is equally important. The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot with a win, while the result also could impact the Bills’ AFC playoff seeding.

So, where did things stand as of early Wednesday morning?

The Patriots and Bills both largely conducted business as usual Wednesday, behaving as if they intended to play this Sunday. New England held team meetings and practiced in Foxboro, Mass., while Buffalo conducted a walkthrough and held various meetings. However, both teams canceled scheduled media availabilities due to unique circumstances, including Hamlin’s ongoing recovery after suffering from cardiac arrest Monday.

Additionally, the Patriots currently are scheduled to practice Thursday and Friday, offering media availability on both days, before holding a closed walkthrough Saturday. That’s the status quo for a typical game week.

But what about the NFL?

In its update Tuesday, the league said no changes had been made to the Week 18 schedule. It also hadn’t reached a decision on whether the Bengals-Bills game will be resumed before the start of the postseason.

So, at this juncture, it appears as if the Patriots and Bills will play in Buffalo on Sunday. Whether the continual flow of positive updates on Hamlin will influence the Bills to play as scheduled is something only they know. This is an unprecedented situation.

And therein lies the crux of the issue: Buffalo players and coaches ultimately might decide how this thing goes.

If they feel comfortable playing Sunday, the game likely will be played unless the NFL enacts sweeping scheduling changes. If they don’t feel as if they’re ready to take the field, the game could be postponed.

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET in Buffalo. What happens between now and then is impossible to predict.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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