NFL should squash any suggestion of moving AFC, NFC title games to neutral sites. You can’t replicate intense home-field atmosphere on a neutral field.

It would be difficult to say exactly where it ranks in the history of bad ideas, but turning the AFC and NFC championship games into neutral-site events would arguably be the most monumental misstep in the 100-plus year history of the NFL.

Surely they won’t let it happen. Or will they?

In his Sports Illustrated column over the weekend, the well-connected Albert Breer wrote that it was “inevitable” owners will start discussing the concept after the league had set up Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as a host site if the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs had played for the AFC title.

Because the Bills could not make up the Jan. 2 game that was suspended after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field, the neutral site option made sense. Because they both had three losses in the regular season, it wouldn’t have been fair to put the game in Kansas City. But because the Chiefs had one more win, you couldn’t have given the Bills home-field advantage.

When the Bills lost to Cincinnati, that should have been the end of it. But now it seems there’s at least going to be a discourse on how the NFL can pervert this idea and turn it into another way to print money.

Sorry, NFL, but nobody wants this other than your greedy owners.

Sure, it’s easy to understand the myriad ways in which the league could profit off this. Cities would bid for hosting rights. More sponsorships could be sold. The NFL, not the home team, would control ticket revenue and luxury suite sales. Essentially, the NFL could create two mini-Super Bowls.

It probably looks great on a spreadsheet. It sounds awful in real life.

Look, it’s not that the concept would fail. You could put Kansas City-Cincinnati in Houston and the stadium would be packed, just like it would be if San Francisco-Philadelphia was going to be played in New Orleans this weekend. The NFL is big enough, powerful enough and national enough to sell the tickets and make it look good on television.

But home-field advantage is one of the intrinsically great parts of the sport.

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For all the bells and whistles attached to the Super Bowl, it is usually an antiseptic environment that caters to corporate fat cats and isn’t accessible to most of the hard-core fans who fill stadiums across the country every Sunday. But this weekend, Arrowhead Stadium is going to be one of the most intense atmospheres in sports even in the 20-degree weather predicted for Sunday. Philadelphia, always one of the loudest stadiums in the country, is going to be absolutely bonkers.

You can’t replicate that on a neutral field. You can’t even come close.

Ironically, this is a debate college football is having right now as it expands its playoff from four to 12 teams beginning in 2024. At the moment, the new format will have four first-round games on the campuses of the higher-seeded teams, with the quarterfinals, semifinals and national championship all at neutral bowl game sites.


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