5 Potential Neutral Venues That Could Host an AFC Championship Game

The best news of all is that it looks like Damar Hamlin will survive.

After collapsing on the field due to cardiac arrest during a Monday night game with the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills’ safety in the hospital is improving after a horrific incident that millions of people around the world have been praying for his recovery.

According to reportsthose prayers look like they’ve been answered and Hamlin will be all right.

While Hamlin’s health and well-being is the focus of Monday night’s incident, there’s a side-show that saw the scheduling and seeding for the upcoming NFL playoffs thrown into a bit of chaos.

Buffalo and Cincinnati were potentially playing for top seed and home field advantage throughout the entire AFC playoff portion, so those teams that did not complete that game forced the NFL to come up with alternate playoff seeding/competition solutions.

Entering the game, Buffalo and Kansas City were tied for the best record in the AFC, but Buffalo had a tiebreak based on a personal win. Cincinnati was one game behind and had already beaten Kansas City, so a win against Buffalo would have given the Bengals a tiebreaker over both teams.

One of the decisions announced by the league on Thursday was the possibility of hosting the AFC Championship Game at a neutral venue, especially if Buffalo or Cincinnati come out on it.

For the full announcement and list of scenarios after this week’s regular season finals that will work whether or not a neutral site is chosen, see here. click or tap here.

But in terms of where the AFC Championship game will take place at a neutral venue, below are five likely locations.

As a disclaimer, this list is provided without direct knowledge or word of what the NFL thinks of potentially neutral sites.

This is just a guess based on past instances where a neutral ground was required for a game, including this year when Cleveland and Buffalo played in Detroit after a massive snowstorm prevented Buffalo from playing.

The list also suggests that cities/stadiums will be ready to step up and welcome guests.

Cities are listed in order from least likely to most likely.

5. New Orleans

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, file)

Pros – The city has hosted 10 Super Bowls, and its domed stadium would not only be perfect in January, but would also be a fun place for fans to prepare for the game.

Minuses – If two teams from the Midwest are playing in an AFC Championship game, the league may choose a more neutral venue to ease travel costs for fans.

4. Miami

(AP Photo/Martha Lavandieu) (Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Pros – Miami has hosted the most Super Bowls of any city (11), making major games a common occurrence. The teams will also be more familiar with the surrounding area given that the Dolphins play in the AFC. The warm climate and pristine field will also preclude any weather conditions.

Minuses – As with New Orleans, this will not be the central location and not the easiest place for fans of these teams to get to quickly.

3. New York/New Jersey

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file) (Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Pros – Playing in the AFC Championship in the biggest media market might be desirable for the league, and it wouldn’t be all that much of a trip for Buffalo and Cincinnati fans either. MetLife Stadium is also a grass pitch that can hold up better.

Minuses – If a league wants to move to a neutral ground, they will likely prefer indoor or warm-weather locations to take the elements out of the game. While it may not take long for some fans to travel to the area, hotels, lodging, and food in the area will be expensive.

2. Minnesota

(AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, file) (Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Pros – It’s a Midwestern location with a beautiful domed structure, so fans of Buffalo, Cincinnati, or Kansas City will find it easy to get to and remove any elements from the game. Minnesota is also not as expensive as the other three cities mentioned above.

Minuses – The Vikings are a playoff team in the NFC, so if Minnesota manages to get enough results, the league may need a stadium for an NFC championship game.

1. Detroit

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Pros – Detroit has been called by the league as an emergency host on other occasions, including for this year’s Cleveland-Buffalo game after the Buffalo blizzard. In 2010, the Giants and Vikings moved their game to Ford Field after the roof collapsed at the Metrodome. The Detroit area will be a short trip for fans of Buffalo, Cincinnati or Kansas City, it’s not that expensive to spend time and the game will be played in an indoor stadium. Plus, the Lions haven’t hosted a playoff game since 1994, so enthusiastic fans would love the chance to host an AFC Championship game in their backyard.

Minuses – If Buffalo is successful, it will be the third time this year that he has played at Ford Field, so the league may see it as too much of an advantage for the Bills. Also, Jan Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted Friday morning that Ford Field might not be available anyway due to the pre-planned removal of their turf.

Is there a city we missed that could potentially be a good venue for an AFC Championship game? Let us know in the comments below.

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