In wake of the Damar Hamlin injury and cancellation of the Bengals/Bills matchup, the NFL had to make up their minds about what would happen in the playoffs due to such an unprecedented situation. Two playoff-bound teams in a detrimental game to determine seeding had said game cancelled, and with that a whole host of different scenarios and questions were at hand. Who would take the 1 seed? What about the AFC North? What team gets homefield advantage out of all of this? All questions that needed answers by the NFL. Obviously, the Damar Hamlin injury took precedence at the time these questions first reared their heads, but now that Hamlin is out of the hospital and stable (Thank you to all medical professionals that were able to save his life, your work is truly appreciated) some of these questions still needed answering, mainly the prospect of a neutral site if the Bills or Bengals should make the AFC Championship as well as the Chiefs, who were awarded the 1 seed by proxy after the Bills/Bengals cancellation. We finally got our answer, and it's gotten some mixed reviews.
The neutral site where the AFC Championship could be held if the Bengals or Bills make it to the AFC Championship along with the Chiefs will be Atlanta, the NFL announced today, about as neutral as you can get if you can't do Indianapolis (The actual halfway point between Kansas City and Buffalo i.e. the two teams most projected to be in the AFC Championship game, seriously look it up and see how it's literally halfway I'm not lying) Atlanta though I like in terms of neutrality, as for game atmosphere however? It's debatable. For one, with a neutral site means a neutral fanbase at the game. Half Chiefs fans, half Bengals/Bills. It would work much like how a college bowl game works, which is fair, but watered down in terms of having that homefield advantage all other AFC Championship hosts have had. Secondly, the Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills all have incredibly cold January and February weather. Something about the magic of playoff football is taken away when you don't allow teams to play in their element. As Fox Sports analyst and KC native Nick Wright said on Twitter: "Both KC & BUF are cold weather, outdoor teams. Felt like this game's location should've matched with that." (twitter.com/getnickwright) I tend to agree, I think the only way you get authentic, Chiefs vs. Bills/Bengals playoff football (for a chance to go to the Super Bowl mind you) is if you play it outdoors. This being said, Mahomes out of the three quarterbacks has the best record against teams that play indoors while playing the most games indoors out of all three, racking up a 79% winning percentage based on 34 games over said teams vs. Josh Allen's 64% based on 17 games and Joe Burrow's 50% based on 10 games. He also has better numbers indoors to boot (that is more based on quantity of games he's played indoors however, ergo I will not mention said numbers as they should be considered basically irrelevant) It helps to have divisional opponents that play indoors, of which Allen and Burrow do not, so playing indoors I'd say is an edge for the Chiefs.
Whatever the case may be, this is how the NFL has set it out to be should the Chiefs and either the Bills or Bengals make the AFC Championship. Who knows, maybe we'll see the Chiefs play someone else and get their homefield advantage, but if not and this is how it goes down the football purist in me will be disappointed, but the stat nerd in me will be optimistic and encouraged. I am excited to see how this NFL postseason plays out, I think the Chiefs have a good chance no matter what and so long as they play their game they'll make the AFC Championship and Super Bowl. Time will tell though, and we can only wait and see, as the next Chiefs football game will be 10 days from now.
Burn Notice: 8/10 Should've been the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho. A crying shame.