KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs began practicing Tuesday for their regular-season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, which could ultimately earn the AFC West champions the No. 1 playoff seed in the conference in an unprecedented situation for the NFL.
Just as the Chiefs were warming up, the league announced that Week 18 games would be played as scheduled, including Kansas City’s visit to Las Vegas on Saturday.
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But the league also said the Bills-Bengals game from Monday night, which was suspended when Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest, would not be resumed this week.
The Bills, who are 12-3 and beat Kansas City in their head-to-head matchup, needed to beat the Bengals to keep pace with the Chiefs (13-3) for the best record in the AFC, and with it the top seed and lone first-round postseason bye.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes were scheduled to speak to reporters Tuesday, but the team pushed back their availability out of respect for Hamlin, who remains in critical condition in a Cincinnati hospital.
They are now scheduled to address reporters on Wednesday.
Mahomes was among many Chiefs players who tweeted they were “praying hard” for Hamlin, who collapsed after making a tackle in the first quarter of Monday night’s game. Hamlin was surrounded by team and independent medical staff within seconds, and along with local paramedics, they spent about 20 minutes providing emergency care on the field.
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The Bills said that Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored before the 24-year-old safety was transferred by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he remained sedated in the intensive care unit Tuesday.
The Chiefs tweeted they were “sending thoughts and prayers to @HamlinIsland and the @BuffaloBills,” while Frank Clark offered “prayers for Damar” and fellow defensive end Carlos Dunlap tweeted it was “bigger than ball at this point.”
Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling tweeted: “Man I hope he’s OK man. We risk our lives daily for this game. And y’all take that … for granted. Send as many prayers up for him. Lord protect him.”
In a letter sent from Roger Goodell to all teams, and obtained by The Associated Press, the NFL commissioner said: “We advised Buffalo and Cincinnati that last night’s game will not be resumed this week. No decision has been made regarding the possible resumption of the game at a later date and we have not announced any changes to this weekend’s schedule.
“We will promptly advise all clubs of any decisions that are made regarding these matters,” Goodell said.
If the Bills-Bengals game is not completed, and each team is left with a 16-game regular season, it could cost Buffalo the No. 1 seed — even though it beat the Chiefs in October. The Bills are scheduled to play the Patriots on Sunday, but if Kansas City beats the Raiders a day earlier, Buffalo could finish no better than a half-game behind the Chiefs in the standings.
The Bengals, who also beat the Chiefs, would win the AFC North and lock in the No. 3 seed with a win over Baltimore on Sunday.
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Not that anyone was worried about the playoffs Tuesday. The focus across the league remained on Hamlin’s well-being.
“Please please please be okay,” Chiefs safety Justin Reid tweeted.
NOTES: Chiefs LG Joe Thuney (ankle) and WR Skyy Moore (hand) watched practice from the sideline Tuesday, but did not participate in the portion open to reporters. Both were hurt in last Sunday’s win over Denver. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (hip) was not seen on the field. … WR Mecole Hardman was at practice. The Chiefs hoped he would play against the Broncos before a setback in his recovery from an abdominal injury. They must activate him Wednesday or place him on season-ending injured reserve. … The Chiefs placed practice squad WR Cornell Powell on the injured list and resigned RB Jerrion Ealy.
AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.
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