NFL could decide on potential AFC Championship neutral site this week

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals, 2022 AFC Championship
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The NFL’s decision to play an AFC Championship between the Chiefs and Bills at a neutral site becomes relevant only if the Chiefs and Bills qualify for the AFC Championship. This may tempt the NFL to try to keep its plans for the neutral site under wraps for as long as possible, given the possibility that the neutral site won’t be needed.

That’s what the league did with the potential coin flip that would have determined home-field advantage for the Bengals-Ravens rematch in the wild-card round. Since the Ravens lost, the coin-flip details never had to be divulged.

But the league still needs to have a plan for a potential neutral-site game, sooner than later. Via Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the NFL has been working on selecting the neutral site, and that it’s possible a decision could come this week.

Friday’s resolution authorizing the neutral site for Bills-Chiefs gives Commissioner Roger Goodell full discretion to pick the location. It should be, given that both the Bills and Chiefs play in the elements, an outdoor location in a place where weather can be a factor in late January.

Lambeau Field. Heinz Field. Soldier Field. Those would be my three top choices, in that order.

The NFL opted to ignore its existing rule for dealing with canceled games (the rule calls for playoff positioning to be determined based on winning percentage) in the name of equity. But the reality is that a significant inequity — the Chiefs getting a week off — was completely unaddressed.

Adding an eighth team to the AFC playoff field definitely would have neutralized that benefit. While the league’s official, on-the-record position is that expanding the field wasn’t considered, the truth is that all sorts of options were discussed — from an eighth team to resolving Bills-Bengals with a coin flip to everything in between and beyond.

In theory, it’s great that they were creative. In practice, it’s still disappointing that they simply chose to ignore the existing rule, a rule crafted in the event some extraordinary situation would result in the cancellation of a game.

40 responses to “NFL could decide on potential AFC Championship neutral site this week

  1. The fields at Heinz and Soldier are awful and should not be considered until they get proper turf like Lambeau’s.

  2. I don’t think Lambeau would work because what if about 1,000 fans of the teams playing want to come into town to watch their team play? Not enough hotel rooms.

  3. I highly doubt it – but would a college stadium be a possibility if it comes down to Bills/Chiefs? I keep having this feeling that they will, somehow, find a way to put it in Vegas or Sofi since those seem to be the darling stadiums currently.

  4. Bank of America stadium in Charlotte would also be a good site. Milder weather but still outdoors in a city large enough to handle the traveling fans needs for hotels and night life.

  5. Nashville would be perfect. Has the hotel rooms to support it. And everyone would have a great time outside of the stadium.

  6. Heinz Field. Damar Hamlin’s hometown. You can practically see the stadium from McKees Rocks.

  7. Why not Gillette? Because Goodell wants to cheat the New England area out of any possible added revenue due to his raging jealousy of the Patriots.

  8. Minnesota or Detroit possibly? To keep it somewhat close and eliminate the elements. Otherwise have it somewhere fans would want to go and airfare would be reasonable. 3 stadiums in Florida.

  9. To be fair to both fan bases, the stadium selected would need to be about the same distance drive from both cities, otherwise you risk getting way too many fans from one side creating a competitive disadvantage.

  10. Green Bay is too far north. Soldier, Heinz, and Columbus are better representations of the winter weather.

  11. Should be at Paycor. Gives the Bengals the lost revenue from mnf, similar outdoor weather to both franchises, and relatively equidistant.

  12. Heinz is loving the free advertising… no longer paying for the rights, but still the proper name.

  13. There is a huge difference between Buffalo winter and KC winter in late January. That being said, why put the players and fans through the cold at all? Nashville and Charlotte are both more or less equidistant for both team’s fan bases and give the outdoor experience with a good chance of no one suffering frostbite or getting hurt on a rock hard slippery field. Anything north of Tennessee should be off the table and a big hell no to Soldier Field or Lambeau.

  14. Mercedes Benz Dome. ATL can handle the last second hotel traffic, airport is accessible from everywhere and the dome takes the weather out of the equation.

  15. It’ll be Atlanta. Biggest airport. Large hotels. Used to holding national scale events. Indoors/fair track. Easy choice.

  16. Hawaii, after all those years of ProBowl games the NFL could actually play a competitive game there for once.

  17. notre dame stadium. it is 77k capacity and about halfway between kc and buffalo too.

  18. Power Rankings:

    1. The Shoe in Columbus
    2. Nashville
    3. Vegas
    4. Pick one in Florida
    5. Atlanta

    OFF: Indy, Detroit, Chicago, Lambeau, Pittsburgh, NY/Philly/DC, Charlotte

    Put it in the Shoe and get 50k Bills fans and 50k Chiefs fans in the same stadium. It would be the atmosphere that such a game deserves.

  19. Should be in KC they played all the games they were scheduled to play and fans and advertisers got their money’s worth.

  20. If outdoor is the NFL’s priority, Cleveland or Chicago are the closest to equidistant from KC and Buffalo. Those of you suggesting the east coast, the south, or the west are missing the point- it has to be in between the two cities, which means the Midwest.

  21. Mike Beranek says:

    “…Cleveland or Chicago are the closest to equidistant from KC and Buffalo.”
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Chicago is equidistant for both teams/fanbases. Cleveland on the other hand…not even close…less than 200 miles from Buffalo…KC 800 miles!

  22. Cincy took it on the chin only getting 7 home games this year and refunding all the money for the cancelled game against Buffalo. I think Cincy has plans themselves to be in the AFC championship, but if it is KC vs. BUF it should be in Cincy to recoup getting the gut punch from the cancelled game.

  23. When are they going to have the discussion to move the potential Bills Vs. Bengals 2nd round game to a neutral site? Only fair considering if the Bills didn’t quit they would likely be the 3 seed currently.

  24. MIKE says: “It should be, given that both the Bills and Chiefs play in the elements, an outdoor location in a place where weather can be a factor in late January.” COUNTER-ARGUMENT: The “neutral site” should be like the Super Bowl site where the victor will play and weather will NOT be a factor. Moreover, because KC won home site by disregarded rule, it should be closer to KC in location and, if outdoor, in climate more like KC.

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