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The Bengals crushed the NFL’s hopes of a neutral-site AFC Championship Sport in Atlanta

The Bengals crushed the NFL’s hopes of a neutral-site AFC Championship Sport in Atlanta

Formally, the NFL isn’t enjoying favorites. Nonetheless, the prospect of internet hosting a convention championship recreation at a impartial location will need to have been enticing to the league workplace.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The Buffalo Bills shedding 27-10 to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday eradicated the choice of the AFC Championship Sport being performed in Atlanta.

The plan of shifting that recreation to Georgia was put in movement within the aftermath of the Week 17 regular-season matchup between the Payments and Bengals. That recreation was, after all, suspended within the first quarter following the in-game medical emergency skilled by Buffalo security Damar Hamlin.

Resuming the sport that late within the season isn’t an choice, and it was ultimately referred to as off. That created an issue for the NFL heading into the playoffs, although: Whereas 30 of the league’s 32 groups would end the common season with 17 video games, the Payments and Bengals — two of the most effective groups within the AFC — would solely have performed 16.

Add the truth that Buffalo owned the head-to-head tiebreaker over the opposite candidate for the No. 1 seed, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the league needed to determine one thing out. The answer was to rely the video games that have been truly performed, however transfer a possible Chiefs-Payments AFC title recreation to a impartial location ought to it occur.

Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium was chosen as that location, and followers of each groups have been fast to buy tickets — one thing the NFL fortunately introduced within the week main as much as the Divisional Spherical of the playoffs:

With the potential for a impartial web site AFC Championship Sport at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta between the Buffalo Payments and Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, each golf equipment gave Season Ticket Members who beforehand opted-in to buy AFC Championship Sport tickets in Buffalo or Kansas Metropolis precedence entry to buy tickets at a most well-liked fee.

Greater than 50,000 tickets have been bought by the golf equipment’ Season Ticket Members within the first 24 hours of the announcement. The ticketing plan allows Payments followers to be seated on their aspect of the sphere and Chiefs on the opposite.

In fact, none of that mattered if the Chiefs and/or Payments failed to really advance to that recreation. Every other pairing for the AFC title recreation would set off the conventional guidelines, that means that the sport wouldn’t be performed in a impartial location however reasonably the house stadium of the higher-seeded membership.

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That’s exactly what occurred. Whereas the Chiefs did their job in opposition to Jacksonville on Saturday, the Payments didn’t observe swimsuit the subsequent day. Because of this, the AFC Championship on Jan. 29 will happen at Kansas Metropolis’s Arrowhead Stadium.

Naturally, not everyone was unhappy to see the NFL’s desires of a neutral-site recreation come to an finish — particularly in Cincinnati.

Contained in the league workplace, nevertheless, the opinion is likely to be a special one. As noted by Professional Soccer Discuss within the week main as much as the Divisional Spherical, in spite of everything, the “curiosity in neutral-site title video games has turn into very actual” throughout the NFL.

The NFL envies the ambiance of main faculty bowl video games, the place a 50/50 mixture of followers are decked out in group colours. It’s one factor about faculty soccer that professional soccer doesn’t totally replicate …

[T]he league’s determination to tout the ticket gross sales turns into the muse for the NFL to promote the likelihood to homeowners and followers (lots of whom aren’t keen on a neutral-site convention championship recreation) as progressive and ground-breaking and the subsequent step in rising the sport, by taking two extra of its most vital occasions to completely different cites and stadiums, yearly.

If the NFL actually needs to introduce neutral-site championship video games sooner or later, it should accomplish that. Public opinion has by no means actually mattered to the league and its homeowners so long as it doesn’t negatively impression the underside line; chances are high that introducing a brand new playoff construction with two extra such video games would additionally not do this.

At the least this 12 months, nevertheless, the NFL won’t get to experiment with an altered format. The Bengals beating the Payments spoiled these plans.

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