This weekend’s results will determine sites for the AFC championship game and possible Ravens-Bengals game
By Paulina Dedaj
Following Thursday’s cancellation of the Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals to “mitigate a possible competitive inequity” in the AFC playoffs, the NFL approved a resolution to potentially move the AFC championship game to a neutral site.
In the resolution made public on Friday afternoon, the NFL stated that the decision was made by league owners at a special league meeting in order to create the most equitable scenario based on two teams having played one fewer game in the regular season.
“For the 2022 season only, the AFC Championship Game will be played at a neutral site, to be determined by the Commissioner, if (A) the participating teams played a different number of regular season games; and (B) the lower seeded team in the Championship Game could have been the number one seed in the AFC if a full 17-game regular season had been played by all AFC clubs,” the resolution stated in part.
“And further Resolved, that unless both participating clubs could have been the number one seed in the AFC and host the Championship Game had they played a full 17-game regular season, the game shall be played at the home stadium of the higher-seeded team.”
The resolution also approved a coin toss to decide the site of a potential wild-card game between the Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens.
If Baltimore were to beat Cincinnati on Sunday and the two face off the following week in the wild-card round, the Ravens would still lose home-field advantage despite having two wins over a division opponent because the Bengals were awarded the AFC North title with the “no-contest” ruling.
“Unless both conditions are met, the site of any Wild Card Game involving Baltimore and Cincinnati shall be determined per Article XX of the Constitution and Bylaws. Irrespective of where a Wild Card game between Baltimore and Cincinnati is played, all teams will retain their seeding as determined by the regular season winning percentage throughout the playoffs and for other competitive determinations,” the resolution stated.
The AFC championship game could be at a neutral site under three different scenarios.
Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie. A Buffalo vs. Kansas City championship game would be played at a neutral site.
Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties. A Buffalo vs. Kansas City championship game would be played at a neutral site.
Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins. A Buffalo or Cincinnati vs. Kansas City championship game would be played at a neutral site.
“As we considered the football schedule, our principles have been to limit disruption across the league and minimize competitive inequities,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday.
“I recognize that there is no perfect solution. The proposal we are asking the ownership to consider, however, addresses the most significant potential equitable issues created by the difficult, but necessary, decision not to play the game under these extraordinary circumstances.”
Fox News’ Ryan Morik contributed to this report.