NFL could decide potential neutral site for AFC Championship 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 only becomes relevant if the Chiefs and Bills qualify for the AFC Championship. This may prompt the NFL to try to keep its plans for the neutral site secret for as long as possible, given the possibility that the neutral site may not be needed.

That’s what the league did with the potential coin toss that would have determined home-court advantage for the Bengals-Ravens rematch in the wildcard round. Since the Ravens lost, the details of the coin-flip were never to be released.

But the league still needs to have a plan for a potential neutral-site game sooner rather than later. Via Mark Maske of Washington Postthe NFL has been working on neutral site selection and a decision may be made this week.

Friday’s resolution authorizing the neutral site for Bills-Chiefs gives commissioner Roger Goodell full latitude in choosing the location. It should be, given that the Bills and Chiefs play in the elements, an outdoor location in a location where the weather may be a factor in late January.

Lambeau field. Heinz field. Field soldier. Those would be my top three picks, in that order.

The NFL chose to ignore its existing rule to deal with canceled games (the rule calls for playoff positioning to be determined based on winning percentage) in the name of fairness. But the reality is that a significant inequity – with chefs getting a week off – hasn’t been addressed.

Adding an eighth team to the AFC playoff field would certainly have neutralized that advantage. While the league’s official, official stance is that expanding the field was not considered, the truth is that all sorts of options were discussed – from an eighth team to the Bills-Bengals resolution with a corner flip to everything else and beyond.

In theory, it’s good that they were creative. In practice, it’s still disappointing that they simply chose to ignore the existing rule, a rule made in the event that an extraordinary situation would cause a game to be canceled.

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