Kick-off time for Monday Night Football is normally 8:15 p.m. ET, but that will change for the Week 17 showdown between the Bills and Bengals.
The start of play will be pushed back by 15 minutes this week, with the new kick-off time coming in at 8:30pm ET. The delay is to allow ESPN to accommodate the Rose Bowl, which begins Monday at 5 p.m. ET, with Penn State playing Utah.
The entire sports network will be showing the Rose Bowl in its entirety before moving on to Monday night’s game. With the possibility of the Rose Bowl still going when Bills-Bengals starts, ESPN will also be televising the NFL game on ABC so nobody has to miss a single.
The Cincinnati game marks the last Monday night game of the regular season and it should be a wild game. For one, it’s an unprecedented showdown for a Monday game this late in the season. The 23 combined wins for both teams is the most in a Monday game. The only other game to hit that mark came in 1997 when the 12-2 49ers played the 11-3 Broncos (Denver lost that game but won the Super Bowl that year).
The Bengals (11-4) will go into the game knowing that a win will win the AFC North, while the Bills (12-3) will go into the game knowing that a win will put them in the driver’s seat to achieve first place overall seeds in the AFC playoffs.
If the Bengals win, it will guarantee them at least the No. 3 seed in the AFC and it would open the door for them to potentially earn the No. 1 seed overall. However, for the Bengals to take first place, not only would they need to beat the Bills on Monday and the Ravens next week, they would also need to lose the Chiefs to the Raiders in Week 17.
If the Bills win, they will overtake Kansas City in the AFC and could then officially secure the top spot with a win over the Patriots in Week 18.
This game marks the first time the Bills and Bengals will meet in January since January 1989, when Cincinnati defeated Buffalo in the AFC title game.