If the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills make the AFC title game, they'll face off in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the NFL announced Thursday.
This decision came after the league canceled the game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals following Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest on the field in Week 17 and subsequently agreed on playoff rule changes. One fewer game for the Bills meant they couldn't officially earn the No. 1 seed, and thus the league decided it would move the title game to a neutral site should Buffalo and Kansas City play each other for a shot at the Super Bowl.
"We are heartened by the continued improvement and progress of Damar Hamlin in his recovery, and Damar and his family remain top of mind for the entire NFL community," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We are also grateful to Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons for agreeing to host the AFC Championship Game in Atlanta should the Bills and Chiefs advance. We thank both of those clubs for their assistance in the planning process. We know, if necessary, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide a world class atmosphere for the competing teams, our fans and partners."
Hamlin was discharged from a Buffalo hospital Wednesday after initially being hospitalized in Cincinnati.
The location makes sense for a number of reasons. It's a true neutral site because neither team has played there since 2017 because the Falcons are in the NFC. The stadium also has a dome so the weather won't in an issue. Atlanta is about a two-hour plane ride from both Kansas City and Buffalo, so neither team will travel more than the other. It's also hosted title games in the past after Super Bowl LIII was played there in 2019.
The Chiefs are the favorite to win the AFC and Super Bowl LVII at +165 and +325 odds, according to BetMGM. The Bills are right behind them at +190 to win the conference and +375 to win the Super Bowl. Last season, the two sides faced off in an epic divisional-round showdown that concluded with a dramatic finish that sent Kansas City to the AFC championship against the eventual Super Bowl runner-up Bengals.
As this postseason's top seeds in the AFC, the Chiefs and Bills are poised for another rematch if they can get there. Kansas City has a first-round bye and would take on the lowest seed that wins on wild-card weekend in the divisional round. The Bills, meanwhile, face the Miami Dolphins without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in an AFC East battle this weekend.