The NFL has selected Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the neutral site for a potential AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills.
The neutral site will only be used if both the Chiefs and the Bills make it to the AFC Championship because both teams could have been the No.1 seed but played a different number of games. Any other matchup will be played at the higher seed’s home stadium.
The Chiefs played the full 17-game regular season slate, but the Bills only played 16 games because their Week 17 game was ultimately canceled after safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field due to cardiac arrest in the first quarter.
Hamlin has since been released from the hospital after undergoing procedures and follow-up tests.
“It’s a situation that we never have encountered before,” Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes told ESPN on Monday. “But at the end of the day, I was so happy that Damar was doing better, and that’s the most important stuff.”
“We were ready to do whatever scenario was going to happen. So if that was a neutral site, if that was going there (to Buffalo), whatever it was, we were just ready to go out there and play. But we have to win that first game first, so let’s worry about whoever we play in that first round, or that first round for us.”
Kansas City was awarded the No.1 seed because it had a higher winning percentage than Buffalo, but Buffalo could have earned it if it had played its full allotment of games.
Detroit and Indianapolis were among the potential backup sites that declined the opportunity to host the game. A list of potential backup sites for playoff games was formed prior to the season as part of the NFL’s standard contingency planning.
The AFC Championship Game will be played at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 29.
Kansas City has a bye week to start the playoffs and will not play again until January 21 or January 22. Buffalo hosts the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 15.