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What scenarios would result in the AFC title game taking place on a neutral field

The AFC Championship Game could end up at a neutral site this year. We break down the scenarios that could lead to that.

The NFL Championship logo on the field before the AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs on Jan 30, 2022 at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sunday update: The Bills beat the Patriots to secure the No. 2 seed. If the Bills and Chiefs meet in the AFC Championship Game, it will be on a neutral field. Any other combination of teams in the AFC title game will take place at the site of the higher seed.

Saturday update: The Chiefs have clinched the No. 1 seed and the bye in the AFC after a victory over the Raiders on Saturday. If the Bills win in Week 18, a Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game would be held at a neutral site.

The 2023 NFL Playoffs get started on Saturday, December 14 and there’s a chance this year’s tournament features a unique situation. We could see the AFC Championship Game played on a neutral site.

Due to the cancellation of Week 17’s Bills-Bengals game, Cincinnati and Buffalo will play one fewer game than the rest of the league. Both teams were in the mix for the No. 1 seed in the AFC alongside the Chiefs. If the Bills and Chiefs both won out, they would remain tied for first and the tie would go to the Bills. If the Bills lost to the Bengals, Cincinnati would have had a chance to push the Chiefs for the top seed.

The cancellation of Bills-Bengals removed that possibility and the Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed on Saturday afternoon when they face the Raiders in Las Vegas. However, due to the missed opportunity for the No. 1 seed, the NFL has created three options where the AFC title game would be played on a neutral field rather than in Kansas City.

The three scenarios are as follows based on Week 18 results involving Bills-Patriots, Chiefs-Raiders, and Bengals-Ravens:

  1. Bills and Chiefs both win or both tie – a Bills-Chiefs championship game would be at a neutral site.
  2. Bills and Chiefs both lose and Ravens win or tie – a Bills-Chiefs championship game would be at a neutral site.
  3. Bills and Chiefs both lose and Bengals win – a Bills or Bengals vs. Chiefs championship game would be at a neutral site.