The Thanksgiving Night Prime Time match-up between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers is finally going to be played, seven days later that is. Due to the Ravens COVID-19 outbreak starting last Monday, it forced the NFL to move this game to Sunday Afternoon. After it was deemed that the Ravens players and staff members were continuing to test positive, the NFL moved the game again from Sunday to Tuesday. It was early Monday Night that it was announced that the league had once again moved the game from Tuesday to Wednesday.
The Ravens had two more positives before they flew to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, but the NFL did not postpone this game again, after it was postponed three times prior. This is not the first time the NFL had to reschedule games due to COVID issues. The league had to deal with outbreaks between the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots between Weeks four and five. As a result, those schedule changes altered six other teams schedules. The NFL just got back on track with the schedule in Week 11.
This latest outbreak from the Ravens proves on how much of a risk playing this season was going to be for both players and coaches. However, one thing we need to remember is that the league gave all players, coaches and game officials the chance to opt out of the season with zero repercussions, and are eligible to return to their respected teams/officiating crews the following season. Some players took the option, others decided to take the chance and play.
We do only have five weeks left to go in the NFL season and Week 12 is finally going to wrap up on Wednesday afternoon. The fact that the league has made it this far is impressive, but now put themselves in a bind because after Week 13, there are no more bye weeks available to any team. So any rescheduled games must be played in a timely fashion that does not effect other games the following week.
That has been the rollercoaster the NFL has dealt with this season. Reminds you a little bit of what baseball had to go through with the St. Louis Cardinals, out for 17 days, and as a result, 10 teams were affected by schedule changes, and over 50 games had to be rescheduled, with two of them being cancelled outright.
Thankfully, the NFL has been able to have every single regular season game played to this point and plan to finish the season. However the NFL still needs to think and execute a plan B in the event that they have to move games to after Week 17, or take into consideration, if the game has playoff implications. For example, if the Jaguars and Jets were scheduled to play, the Jets had a outbreak, but with both teams already being eliminated from the playoffs, this would be an easy game to cancel since both teams are eliminated, has no playoff implications, and will not affect the standings.
In the case with the Ravens and Steelers; it was hard for the NFL to outright cancel this game given the fact that this is a divisional matchup, playoff and seeding implications for both teams; and how the Ravens need the wins since they do not own tiebreakers against the teams that trail them.
This NFL season will has both unforgettable and forgettable, depending what team you root for. However, no one will forget this season, with all of the postponements, games being rescheduled, and all the protocols that the NFL laid out. It has been an abnormal year, but then again, the calendar year 2020 has been one for us all to forget.
With the Ravens vs Steelers rescheduled, it caused the NFL to once again alter the schedule. The Ravens @ Cowboys game that was originally scheduled for Thursday Night has been moved to Monday Night at 5:00, before kickoff of the Bills vs 49ers originally scheduled Monday Night game. The Washington Football Team @ Steelers game scheduled for Sunday Afternoon, has also been rescheduled for Tuesday Night. So again, Week 13 will not begin or end on time, but Week 14 should hopefully be the when leagues schedule is back on track when the Patriots visit the Rams.
Speaking of the San Francisco 49ers; their schedule has also been altered. Yes because of COVID but not because players and staff members tested positive. It's because Santa Clara Country (where the 49ers play their home games) have banned contact sports for three weeks. That put the 49ers homeless for about two days until the 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals agreed to share facilities for the next three weeks. In short, the 49ers will play their regularly scheduled games against the Bills on Monday Night and their Week 14 gamesagainst Washington, but which will be played in Arizona, and will also use the Cardinals practice facility until they are allowed back in their own facility in Santa Clara.
This situation does not affect the Cardinals at all. They will be able to play their regularly scheduled home game on Sunday against the Rams, and then they are in New Jersey the following week. So this situation benefits the 49ers and the NFL. No postponed games for the 49ers at all, which should already spell good news for the next couple weeks, So we hope.
Plus this is not the first time that the league has relocated an NFL game due to drastic situations, The Vikings had to play a home game in Detroit back in 2010 because the roof of the Metrodome collapsed.
The idea of a playoff bubble is not off the table at all for the NFL as it is strongly being considered. We saw the success of a playoff bubble in the hockey, basketball and baseball. The NHL and NBA did not have a single positive case in their playoff bubbles. MLB only one one positive, but that happened on the last night of the bubble, other than that baseball survived theirs.
The difference the between the NFL and the other three leagues is the NFL is going to be asking players to go into a bubble for a maximum of 21 days, compared to 4-8 weeks like the baseball, the NHL and the NBA had to ask from their players. Also, players will be there for a minimum if six days with the games only playing once a week.
The NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to add an additional playoff team in each conference, in the event that any remaining regular season games have to be cancelled due to either local or federal restrictions or any other outbreaks for a team. As of right now it is looking likely that the current playoff format will still go on as planned with only the top seeds earning a bye week and seeds 2-7 having to play on Wild Card weekend.
For only the second time in the modern history of the NFL the Super Bowl era, there is a professional football game being played on a Wednesday. Last time we saw this was 2012 Week 1 between the Cowboys and the Giants. In week 13, for the fourth time this season we are going to have a Monday Night double header and for the second time this season, we will also have Tuesday Night Football. One of the four Monday Night double headers was week One and it was purposely scheduled as it has been for the past few years.
Hopefully, this will be the last time we see these type of situations occur in the final four to five weeks of the season. While it will be a fight to finish for most teams who are both fighting for a playoff spot and a chance at a championship, but also a fight to stay healthy during the Coronavirus Pandemic.