Will 1 huge NFL playoff change become permanent?
The AFC Championship Game could potentially be held at a neutral site this year. That idea was birthed from extreme circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the Week 17 game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, but is it possible the arrangement could become permanent?
There are some who believe the NFL will use this season’s unique situation as a test run to see if conference championship games should be held at neutral venues every year. Kansas City radio host Bob Fescoe said on Wednesday that he was told neutral-site conference championship games are “inevitable.”
. @bobfescoe just said on @ExtraPointWGR that he's been told it's "inevitable" the AFC and NFC Championship Games will eventually be played at neutral sites every year.
— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) January 11, 2023
The idea may not be as unrealistic as it sounds. While fans would be split and it might be a tough sell for season ticket holders, holding conference championship games at predetermined sites would turn them into even bigger national events. The games would become like mini-Super Bowls, with an AFC stadium hosting the NFC Championship Game and vice versa.
Rabid fans — the kinds who are willing to spend the most money — would still travel to see their teams in the conference championship. We see that every year in the College Football Playoff, where the semifinal games and the final are held at neutral venues.
It is still unclear where a potential neutral AFC Championship Game could be held, but there have been some intriguing options mentioned. As long as the two teams play in front of a sold-out stadium, you can bet the NFL will at least have a discussion about what conference championship games at neutral sites every year might look like.