NFL owners pass resolution for potential neutral-site AFC title game


NFL owners passed a resolution Friday that could alter the AFC’s playoff berths in response to the cancellation of the Week 17 Bills-Bengals game.

As part of the amendment, the AFC Championship Game may be played at a neutral site based on the results of Chiefs-Raiders, Patriots-Bills and Ravens-Bengals in Week 18.

Here’s what will happen in the AFC Championship Game in all eight possible scenarios this weekend.

  • Chiefs, Bills and Bengals win: Chiefs-Bills would be played at a neutral site; Chiefs-Bengals would be played in Kansas City. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Chiefs, Bills, Bengals.
  • Chiefs and Bills win, Bengals lose: Chiefs-Bills would be played at a neutral site; Chiefs-Bengals would be played in Kansas City. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Chiefs, Bills, Bengals
  • Chiefs win, Bills, Bengals lose: The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship Game no matter the opponent. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Chiefs, Bills, Bengals.
  • Chiefs and Bengals win, Bills lose: The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship Game no matter the opponent. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Chiefs, Bengals, Bills.
  • Bills win, Chiefs, Bengals lose: Bills will host AFC championship game if it comes; The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship game against the Bengals if both make it. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Bills, Chiefs, Bengals.
  • Bills and Bengals win, Chiefs lose: Bills will host AFC championship game if it comes; The Chiefs will host the AFC Championship game against the Bengals if both make it. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Bills, Chiefs, Bengals.
  • Chiefs, Bills and Bengals lose: Chiefs-Bills would be played at a neutral site; Chiefs-Bengals would be played in Kansas City. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Chiefs, Bills, Bengals.
  • Bengals win, Chiefs and Bills lose: Chiefs-Bills would be played at a neutral site; Chiefs-Bengals would be played at a neutral site. No. 1-3 seeds in order: Chiefs, Bengals, Bills.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will determine the neutral site for the conference title game, if necessary.

The amendment was achieved after Monday’s Bills-Bengals game was declared a no contest after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest. On Friday, Hamlin’s agent said the 24-year-old is breathing on his own and able to speak — the latest steps in his remarkable recovery. The Bills noted in a social media post that Hamlin joined their morning meeting via Facetime.

As Hamlin’s teammates try to position themselves better this weekend in the AFC playoff picture, the Bengals and Ravens will compete with the possibility of a coin flip to determine where they will open the postseason.

The Bengals were named the AFC North champions on Thursday, but they are not guaranteed to host the wild-card round. If Cincinnati loses against Baltimore on Sunday and the Chargers beat the Broncos, the Bengals would face the Ravens in the opening round of the playoffs. Since the Ravens won both regular season matchups against the Bengals in this scenario, a coin toss would determine who would host their playoff game.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor expressed his disapproval of the proposal while speaking to reporters Friday before its passage.

“As far as I’m concerned, we just want the rules to be followed,” Taylor said. according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “When a game is cancelled, you just have to turn to the win percentage to clear everything up and not have to invent rules.”

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