The league's owners previously approved a resolution last Friday (January 6) to adjust the AFC postseason format if needed following the decision to cancel the Monday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals in which Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest.
A matchup between the No. 2 seed Bills and No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs would result in a neutral site AFC Championship Game as Buffalo would have earned the top seed with a win in the cancelled Monday Night Football game and held a tiebreaker advantage over Kansas City, having defeated the Chiefs, 24-20, in October, as well as more conference wins with the additional victory.
"We are heartened by the continued improvement and progress of Damar Hamlin in his recovery, and Damar and his family remain top of mind for the entire NFL community," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on Thursday. "We are also grateful to Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons for agreeing to host the AFC Championship Game in Atlanta should the Bills and Chiefs advance. We thank both of those clubs for their assistance in the planning process. We know, if necessary, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide a world class atmosphere for the competing teams, our fans and partners."
Hamlin was released from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center on Monday (January 9) and discharged from a Buffalo hospital after completing a series of tests and evaluations on Wednesday (January 11).
Hamlin, 24, tackled Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins during the first quarter of the January 2 game and got back to his feet before suddenly falling to the ground. A stretcher and ambulance came onto the field and CPR was administered by first responders.