UPDATE: After the Bengals win over the Bills Sunday, the neutral site option is no longer in play. The Chiefs will host the Bengals in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium.
There’s an entire round of playoff football to go before the Conference Championships, and we’ll need to wait to see the results of Divisional Round matchup between the Jaguars and Chiefs and Bengals and Bills before anything is finalized. But should the Chiefs and Bills both advance, the ensuing championship game will not be played at Arrowhead, home stadium of the top-seeded Chiefs. Read on to see why the game would be set for a neutral site, and where it would take place.
RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule
Where would neutral site Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game be held?
On January 12th, ahead of Wild Card Weekend, the NFL announced that it had identified Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as the host site for a potential AFC Championship game between the Buffalo Bill and Kansas City Chiefs. It would be a significant warm-weather deviation from a January matchup in Kansas City.
RELATED: Owners change rule for handling canceled games
Why is there a neutral site for Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game?
The NFL decided to identify a neutral site for a potential Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship matchup after the decision not to resume the Week 17 matchup between the Bills and the Bengals on Monday, January 2nd, where Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a medical emergency and had to be resuscitated on the field. Hamlin spent several days at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, a level-one trauma center, before returning to Buffalo. He spent additional time at Buffalo General Medical Center before being discharged to continue his recovery supported by friends and family.
Because of the unequal number of games completed by the Bills and Chiefs (the Chiefs played 17 full games, to a 14-3 record, while the Bills played 16 to a 13-3 record), the NFL’s owners voted for a resolution that allowed for a neutral site AFC Championship should the Bills and Chiefs both advance to the game.
RELATED: Joe Mixon: Selling tickets to neutral site conference title game “disrespectful”
When will AFC Championship game take place?
The AFC Championship game is scheduled for Sunday, January 29th at 6:30pm ET on CBS and Paramount+, with teams to be determined based on the results of this weekend’s Divisional matchups. Here are all the possible outcomes for locations based on seeding and Divisional Round results:
- Chiefs win, Bills win – AFC Championship held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium neutral site
- Chiefs win, Bengals win – Chiefs host AFC Championship game
- Jaguars win, Bills win – Bills host AFC Championship game
- Jaguars win, Bengals win – Bengals host AFC Championship game
In order for the neutral site to be in play, the Chiefs need to beat the Jaguars in the first game of the Divisional Round, Saturday, January 21st on NBC and Peacock. Coverage begins at 3pm ET with kickoff at 4:30pm ET.
How to watch Jacksonville Jaguars vs Kansas City Chiefs:
- Where: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
- When: Saturday, January 21
- Start Time: 3:00 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
- TV Channel: NBC
- Stream live: Watch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App
Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Playoffs, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!