Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, has been chosen at the neutral site for a potential Bills-Chiefs matchup in the AFC Championship, the NFL announced.
The AFC Championship is scheduled for Jan. 29. Team owners approved a resolution earlier this month which opened the door for the conference championship to be played at a neutral location.
The league made the decision after the Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals was canceled as a result of safety Damar Hamlin collapsing on the field and going into cardiac arrest.
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The Bills announced on Wednesday that Hamlin was discharged from the hospital and will continue his recovery at home with his family and with the team.
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“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 on Thursday.
“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.”
Earlier this week, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes weighed in on the possibility of playing the conference championship game at a neutral site.
“Nothing was going to be fair for anybody, I don't think. It's a situation that we never have encountered before,” Mahomes shared 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.
“And so him doing better and him being in a better spot, we were ready to do whatever scenario was going to happen. So if that was 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.”
The neutral site will only be used if Kansas City and Buffalo make it to the AFC Championship round. The NFL determined those teams played an unequal number of regular-season games, and both had a chance at the No. 1 seed if every AFC team played all 17 games.
Atlanta had previously been designated as a potential backup host site for the playoff games before the regular-season started, due to the NFL's contingency policies. The city of Atlanta is almost equidistant from both Buffalo and Kansas City.
The league also announced that ticket information for the neural site game would be released at a later date.
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The Bills (13-3) will host the Dolphins (9-8) on Sunday in the wild-card round. The Chiefs (14-3) hold the AFC's No. 1 seed and have a bye week.