AFC title game will be at neutral site if Bills vs. Chiefs

Jan 7, 2023, 11:27 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2023, 1:30 pm
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs in a touchdown against New England Patriots corn...

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs in a touchdown against New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Orchard Park. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

              Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs in a touchdown against New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Orchard Park. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The AFC championship game will be played on a neutral site if the Chiefs and Bills reach that point.

Buffalo’s 35-23 win over New England on Sunday coupled with Kansas City’s 31-13 victory at Las Vegas on Saturday means the No. 1 seed Chiefs (14-3) can’t host the conference title game against the Bills (13-3) because the teams played an unequal number of games.

NFL owners approved a resolution Friday that implemented new rules for this postseason in response to the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field Monday night.

The Bills were trailing the Bengals 7-3 in the first quarter when Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated after making a tackle. The league chose to cancel the game to avoid disrupting the start of the postseason and impacting the remainder of the playoff field.

The 24-year-old Hamlin is breathing fully on his own while also able to speak, though he was still listed in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. His neurological function was deemed excellent on Saturday.

If the Bills would’ve defeated the Bengals, they would have earned the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs because a 24-20 win in Kansas City in October gave Buffalo a tiebreaker edge. Instead, the Bills finished with the No. 2 seed and will host the Miami Dolphins (9-8) in a wild-card game next weekend.

The Bills lost a thrilling overtime game at Kansas City in the divisional round last year. The Chiefs have hosted the last four AFC championship games, going 2-2. They would host it again if their opponent is not Buffalo.

Cincinnati’s 27-16 win over Baltimore eliminated the rule change that called for a coin flip to determine home-field advantage for the Ravens-Bengals matchup in an AFC wild-card game. The Bengals (12-4) will host the Ravens (10-7) next weekend. The Bengals had criticized the coin flip proposal, and running back Joe Mixon mocked it Sunday by flicking a coin and kicking it after scoring a touchdown.

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