By ALAN SAUNDERS and NICK FARABAUGH
Pittsburgh and Acrisure Stadium will not play host to a neutral-site AFC Championship Game if the scenarios requiring one play out, Steelers Now has confirmed with the NFL.
After the Week 17 Bills-Bengals game was canceled on Thursday, the league set out scenarios to attempt to even the playing field for teams that have played an uneven number of games. That includes some scenarios that could end up in the AFC Championship being played at a neutral site.
But despite reports to the contrary, such a game will not be played at Acrisure Stadium, a league spokesperson told Steelers Now on Friday.
If Buffalo and Kansas City both have the same results in Week 18, an AFC Championship game between those teams, or if they both lose, between Kansas City and Cincinnati, will be held at a neutral site. While the plan approved by NFL owners on Friday, the location for that neutral site has yet to be determined at this time.
However, the logistics are already in motion to figure out what a fair neutral site would be for an AFC Championship game. The Bengals were officially named the AFC North champions on Thursday with the move, and if they play the Ravens in the Wild Card Round, the home field for that game will be decided by a coin toss. One of the reasons that game will not be held at a neutral site is that there is not necessarily lead time for the logistics required for such a game.
Acrisure Stadium is in between Buffalo and Kansas City, but so are a half-dozen other NFL stadiums, including Cincinnati. The Detroit Lions’ Ford Field is reportedly unavailable, as they’ve already started a turf replacement project. It’s unclear if the teams involved, all of which play outdoors, would want to play in a dome, but Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium is centrally situated and has hosted major league events in the past. Chicago, Cleveland and Nashville are other geographically neutral options.