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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell visits the sideline during pregame warmups before the NFL football game between Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. in Kansas City.


Through five NFL playoff games, the top seed has won four times, and the AFC Wild Card teams have all been eliminated.

If the top seed wins in the AFC divisional playoff games, the Chiefs will travel to Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face the Buffalo Bills.

That’s the result of Buffalo canceling its Week 17 game against Cincinnati. The idea for a neutral-site AFC Championship Game came to commissioner Roger Goodell, and NFL owners approved it on Jan. 6.

The details of the owners meeting have been revealed since then and it shows how the bosses voted and what they want in a neutral site game.

Here’s a closer look.

The vote

NBC Sports’ Peter King reported that the vote to approve the game at a neutral site was not unanimous. Three-quarters (24) of NFL owners had to approve the plan, and King said it received 25 yes votes.

The Bengals, Dolphins and Bears voted three against, King reported, with the Chiefs, Bills, Raiders and Chargers abstaining.

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported that Bengals executive vice president Cathy Blackburn “urged teams to vote down the scripts. His reasoning stemmed from the timing of the rule change in this scenario, away from the yardstick of percentage won.”

Peter’s request

The only possible neutral site would be the AFC Championship Game between the Bills and Chiefs.

Once the owners approved the idea, the league began looking for a stadium that could work. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reports, executives have made demands to the league.

The NFL apparently didn’t listen.

“A league source said executives have indicated they want an outdoor area on natural turf,” Jones wrote. “They ended up with a covered stadium on grass.”

Why was Atlanta chosen?

Mercedes-Benz Stadium was chosen for several reasons.

Jones said the 71,000-seat stadium has “much more premium seating than Arrowhead or Highmark (stadiums), which means more ticket revenue for the game, even if it ends up being split between the two teams.”

Boston Globe reporter Ben Wolin noted weather shouldn’t be a problem for the game (it’s a domed stadium) or for fans traveling to Atlanta. notes that Atlanta’s “daily high temperature is around 53 °F, rarely falling below 39 °F or exceeding 66 °F.”

That means snow and ice probably won’t keep fans from getting into the game.

It also helped that the Falcons didn’t make the playoffs, so there was no worry that Atlanta needed a stadium.

This story was originally published January 16, 2023 10:17.

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From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997.



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