NFL makes crucial decision, preventing major NASCAR conflict

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

NFL’s decision to cancel the remainder of the Bills vs. Bengals game means there should be no playoff conflict with the NASCAR Clash.

Amid the postponement of Monday night’s NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals due to Bills safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest after a hit, there was speculation about what the league may decide to do about the rest of the crucial AFC showdown.

One of the possibilities suggested was that the league effectively add a Week 19, a week just for the remainder of the Bills vs. Bengals game, after what was supposed to be the final week of the regular season this weekend.

The move would have resulted in the first three rounds of the playoffs being pushed back, eliminating the off week (Pro Bowl week) between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.

Fortunately for NASCAR fans, the NFL opted to simply cancel the remainder of the Bills vs. Bengals game, though specifics on how playoff seeding and homefield advantage will look have not yet been formally announced.

Why is this significant for NASCAR fans?

NASCAR’s preseason Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is contested on the Sunday between the NFL conference championship games and the Super Bowl. Had the playoffs been pushed back, the AFC and NFC title games would have been contested on the same day as the Clash.

Though the conferences generally switch spots year to year in terms of which game is played first and the AFC title game was played first last year, this year’s provisional playoff schedule shows that the AFC title game is set to be played first once again (3:00 p.m. ET on CBS).

So the NFC title game is set to be played second (6:30 p.m. ET on Fox), and it would not even come close to ending before the Clash begins. The Clash is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Fortunately, the title games are still scheduled to be played on Sunday, January 29, and the Clash remains scheduled to take place the following Sunday, February 5.

Super Bowl LVII is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and the 2023 Cup Series season is officially scheduled to get underway the following Sunday, February 19 with the 65th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR looks like they will be spared from facing a problem that they had strategically tried to avoid.

It goes without saying that NASCAR is never going to beat out the NFL for a prime TV slot, so if anything were going to change to avoid a conflict, the change would have had to come on the NASCAR side. Ratings will back up that decision every time.

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Fortunately for everybody, the Super Bowl moving back to Daytona 500 Sunday was never even floated as a possibility.