The NFL has had to postpone multiple games this season due to positive coronavirus cases, but the league remains determined to play a full 16-game schedule. In order to do that, an extra week of games may need to be added at the end of the year.
After the NFL announced that Monday’s game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots has been postponed due to another positive COVID-19 test, speculation began growing that the NFL could eventually add a Week 18. The plan for the time being is to have any postponed games serve as a team’s bye week, but that will only work once. If a team needs a second game postponed, the schedule becomes more complicated.
As Judy Battista of NFL.com notes, even adding an 18th week might not solve all of the scheduling issues.
NFL clearly wants to use byes to move games early in the season. Don't want to move early season games to a hypothetical wk 18 if bye is available, b/c what happens if a team has to make up two games at end of season? Need to preserve that option as long as possible.
With Monday’s Broncos-Patriots game being moved to next week, the originally scheduled Week 6 game between Denver and the Miami Dolphins has also been moved. Here are the three changes that have been made thus far:
Here’s the plan, per sources, which is tied to Tennessee being able to play:
Broncos-Patriots next Sunday.
Week 8 (what was supposed to be Denver bye): Chargers at Broncos.
Week 11 (scheduled Miami bye) Dolphins at Broncos.
The Tennessee Titans are in danger of having to postpone or even cancel their second consecutive game this weekend, and the NFL is trying to figure out a schedule that will still allow all teams to play 16 games. If that becomes impossible, the league may have to consider a significant change for determining which teams qualify for the postseason.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Thursday that the NFL has discussed the idea of determining the playoff field based on winning percentage rather than total wins. That may become necessary if one or more teams are unable to play a 16-game season.
The Titans’ Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed, so the NFL treated it as a bye week for both teams. That approach will work for any team that has to postpone one of its games, but things become more complicated if a second is unable to be played. With Tennessee still returning positive COVID-19 tests this week, the league is working toward a solution.
If the NFL does decide to determine the playoff field based on win percentage, that would likely be a much more favorable outcome for the Titans than another one that is being discussed.
The Tennessee Titans have been unable to avoid additional positive coronavirus tests since their Week 4 game was postponed, and that has now put their Week 5 contest in jeopardy as well. Since Week 4 was already treated as their bye, there has been talk of the NFL potentially making the Titans forfeit their Week 5 game.
The Titans returned another positive COVID-19 test on Thursday, which makes three in the last two days and 23 total since Sept. 24. An investigation from the NFL and NFL Players Association reportedly determined this week that the Titans broke coronavirus protocols by holding an unauthorized workout, which could lead to serious disciplinary action. Multiple reporters are now speculating that the NFL could force the Titans to forfeit Sunday’s scheduled game against the Buffalo Bills.
A lot of chatter the NFL could make the Titans forfeit this game as a punishment for violating Covid protocols. https://t.co/ySsRpOwu18
Was told yesterday a forfeit hadn't been discussed for the Titans. Have to wonder if that changes as the situation continues. Potentially 2nd game impacted — no place to put a rescheduled game unless they create a week 18. A mess that's created a lot of anger around the league.
As part of a memo that was sent to teams last week, the NFL reportedly informed teams that a failure to follow coronavirus protocols could lead to discipline that includes the loss of draft picks or forfeiture of a game. The Titans were already in the middle of their outbreak when that memo was issued, so they would likely be furious if the NFL applied it to their situation.
The Miami Dolphins will once again have a limited number of fans at their next home game, but their local government is no longer standing in the way of filling every seat at Hard Rock Stadium.
Radio host Andy Slater was told by a spokesperson for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that the Dolphins have been given clearance to host a full-capacity crowd, which would be 65,000 people. However, they will stick with the current plan of hosting 13,000 fans at least for their next home game on Oct. 25.
Several NFL teams have been hosting limited crowds, while others continue to not allow any fans at games. Masks are mandatory for fans at games across the league, but the NFL has let teams handle their respective crowd sizes on a case-by-case basis.
It’s unclear if the Dolphins plan to host 65,000 fans, but they could increase the number they allow at some point.
The NFL is further strengthening its protocols to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks around the league.
Among the new protocols put in place are restrictions on weekly tryouts and a ban on gatherings outside club facilities. The league even plans to use video to ensure that the protocols are being adhered to.
Changes to the COVID-19 protocols include:
– A longer onboarding process for free agent tryouts – Bans on gatherings outside of the club facility – Limits on the number of tryouts permitted per week – League-wide video monitoring system to ensure compliance with the protocols https://t.co/kzWPbTJXy0
The changes come on the heels of a week that saw the Tennessee Titans suffer an outbreak, which forced the postponement of their game against Pittsburgh. The league does not want to see that happen again.
Several members of the Las Vegas Raiders can tell you just how serious the NFL is about enforcing its COVID-19 safety protocols.
Raiders tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 and several other players were fined $15,000 after recently appearing at a fundraiser without wearing masks. Waller’s fine was largest, likely because he was the one hosting the event. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that quarterback Derek Carr was one of the other players fined.
The NFL took notice when photos and videos from the event showed Raiders players being introduced while not wearing masks. Owner Mark Davis noticed as well, and was critical of the players.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to restrict players from attending any event that violates state or local restrictions. The agreement also included players avoiding indoor concerts, music or entertainment events. They have further agreed to restrict players from visiting bars or night clubs with 10-or-more people and without wearing a mask. Players are also not supposed to attend house gatherings with more than 15 people and without wearing a mask.
The NFL has already postponed one game and had players test positive for the coronavirus on multiple teams, which has led to talk of potentially needing a bubble plan going forward. That is still on the table, at least for the playoffs.
Discussions about playing games in a postseason bubble have picked up for the NFL internally, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The most viable plan would involve the two conference championship games being played in a hub city.
While the idea of a playoff bubble has gained traction with the NFL’s competition committee, there are some within the NFL league office that are not excited about it. The NFL Players Association also did not want to pursue the bubble concept prior to the season, though the two sides are expected to discuss it again at some point.
The Tennessee Titans had a COVID-19 outbreak this week, which resulted in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers being postponed until later in the season. Patriots quarterback Cam Newton also tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning, so New England’s game against the Chiefs has been moved to Monday night at 7 p.m. EST. No additional positive coronavirus tests had been returned from the Patriots as of Sunday morning, and the game will be played Monday if that holds true on Monday morning.
Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test result means the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs will not play as scheduled.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs game, which was scheduled to kick off at 4:25 p.m., will not be played as scheduled. In a statement, the NFL said it aims to play the game Monday or Tuesday. Schefter says Tuesday is more likely.
Much will depend on further testing for both teams. For now, no further Patriots players have tested positive since Newton’s positive test, but that does not mean New England’s players are out of the woods.
It’s a significant blow for the Patriots in what was expected to be an exciting matchup between two of the game’s most electric quarterbacks. New England will have to choose between Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer to start in Newton’s place.
The NFL is expanding its coronavirus testing program in response to multiple members of the Tennessee Titans organization contracting COVID-19 this week.
On Friday, the NFL and NFL Players Association reached an agreement to extend the league’s daily coronavirus testing program indefinitely. There was previously a plan in place where daily testing would end if the positive test rate fell below a certain threshold, but daily testing will now continue regardless. The policy also calls for players and coaches to remain in their home cities during by weeks.
The NFL informed clubs today it has reached an agreement with the NFLPA to extend daily testing — and that players and coaches are not allowed to leave the city during their bye week. pic.twitter.com/j8FnrB5oF4
Two more Titans players tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total to seven players and six other members of the organization. The Minnesota Vikings, who hosted the Titans last Sunday, have not returned any positive tests.