Normally, “Monday Night Football” kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET, but for the Week 17 matchup between the Bills and Bengals, that timing will change.
This week, the game’s start time will be 15 minutes later; it will now begin at 8:30 p.m. ET. The postponement is being made in order for ESPN to accommodate the Rose Bowl, which will begin on Monday at 5 p.m. ET with Penn State playing Utah.
Before transitioning to the Monday night game, the whole Rose Bowl will be broadcast on the all sports network. Bills-Bengals will be shown on ABC by ESPN as well, ensuring that no one will have to miss a single play because it’s possible that the Rose Bowl may still be in progress when the NFL game begins.
The final Monday night game of the regular season will take place in Cincinnati, and it is expected to be an exciting one. One reason is that it’s a historically significant showdown for a Monday game this late in the season. The 23 victories obtained by both sides in total constitute a Monday match record. The only other match to reach that milestone occurred in 1997 between the 11-3 Broncos and the 12-2 49ers (Denver lost that game but went on to win the Super Bowl that year).
The Bills (12-3) will enter the contest with the knowledge that a victory would put them in a strong position to secure the top overall seed in the AFC playoffs, while the Bengals (11-4) will enter the contest knowing that a victory would seal the AFC North.
The Bengals will be guaranteed at least the third seed in the AFC and might perhaps earn the top overall seed if they triumph. But in addition to defeating the Bills on Monday and the Ravens the following week, the Bengals would also need the Chiefs to lose to the Raiders in Week 17 for them to secure the top spot.
If the Bills triumph, they will surpass Kansas City for the top AFC seed, and if they defeat the Patriots in Week 18, they might clinch that slot for good.
Since Cincinnati defeated Buffalo in the AFC championship game in January 1989, this contest will be the first time the Bills and Bengals have played in the month of January.