Atlanta would host potential Chiefs-Bills AFC Championship Game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
While the Atlanta Falcons didn’t make the 2023 NFL playoffs, they could still host a postseason game.
The potential neutral-site AFC Championship Game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the NFL announced on Thursday. The neutral site will only be utilized if the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are the AFC’s last two teams standing.
Atlanta was designated a possible backup host site for postseason games prior to the start of the 2022 season as part of standard NFL contingency planning. It is almost equidistant from Buffalo and Kansas City.
Indianapolis turned down a request to potentially host the game at Lucas Oil Stadium due to scheduling conflicts.
NFL owners approved a plan for a potential neutral-site AFC title game in the wake of the canceled Week 17 matchup between Buffalo and the Cincinnati Bengals. The game was postponed after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field. Days later, the league announced the game would not resume.
Buffalo had the inside track to the AFC’s No. 1 seed thanks to owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kansas City prior to the Week 17 cancellation. But the 14-3 Chiefs wound up earning the top spot due to a super winning percentage, with the 13-3 Bills having played one fewer game.
Had Josh Allen and Co. defeated the Bengals rather than the game being canceled, they would have been the No. 1 seed. Buffalo had to settle for the No. 2 seed, and a wild card round matchup with the division rival Miami Dolphins. The Bills and Dolphins split their season series, with the Bills winning most recently 32-29 on Dec. 17.
While the Chiefs got a bye into the divisional round, they will not have the advantage of playing at Arrowhead Stadium should they make the conference title game for a fifth straight year and face the Bills.
The AFC Championship Game is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET.