The NFL was tripping over itself to market the possibility of a neutral-site AFC championship game, but that won’t be happening with the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals advancing to the conference title game. If the Buffalo Bills hadn’t gotten stomped by multiple scores in front of a home crowd, they would have squared off with the Chiefs at the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
News of the scheduling update broke on the FOX Sports NFL Sunday pregame show, which prompted former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton to bow in from almost out of frame, chuckling “Atlanta misses the playoffs?”
Payton embraced the Saints-Falcons rivalry like few coaches before him, delighting in running up the score to help his players set new records and earn lucrative contract bonuses. He enjoyed riffing on opposing players and fans, and once recorded an iconic commercial at the Falcons’ expense. It’s something that’s missed without him leading the operation in New Orleans, but as we saw on Sunday, old habits — and grudges — die hard.