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When the NFL cancelled the Week 17 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, one of the stipulations was that if that game could have affected AFC playoff seeding, provisions were in place.
One of those provisions was a potential neutral-site AFC Championship if either the Bills or Bengals could have theoretically obtained the #1 seed by winning that game. The Kansas City Chiefs got the #1 seed by going 14-3.
But the Buffalo Bills went 13-3. Had they beaten the Bengals in the cancelled game, they would have been awarded the #1 seed over Kansas City thanks to their head-to-head victory over the Chiefs in Week 5.
The Bengals, who went 12-4, could not obtain the #1 seed due to the Chiefs Week 18 win over the Raiders. The only scenario in which a neutral site AFC Championship game will be played is if the Bills and the Chiefs meet.
Now, the NFL has decided where that game will take place if the situation arises. And they have selected Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement. In it the said that they are “grateful to Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons for agreeing to host the AFC Championship Game should the Bills and the Chiefs advance.”
Atlanta Make Sense To Host The AFC Championship
The league also put out a full release on the decision. They noted the distance to Atlanta from both Buffalo and Kansas City as part of the reason for the decision.
“As part of standard NFL contingency planning, Atlanta was designated a possible backup host site for postseason games prior to the start of the 2022 season and is almost equidistant from both potential participating teams’ cities,” the league wrote. “All other potential AFC Championship Game matchups would take place at the home stadium of the higher seed.”
Detroit and Indianapolis were reportedly among other potential sites, however, both stadiums were booked for that date, Sunday, January 29th.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium played host to Super Bowl LIII in 2019 between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ