- There was initially some concern that Hurricane Delta could disrupt Monday’s New Orleans Saints/Los Angeles Chargers game.
- Two Sunday games have been postponed due to COVID-19.
- The two postponed games are currently scheduled to be played on Monday and Tuesday.
The best thing that can be said about the NFL in Week 5 is that ‘it could be much worse’. Two more Sunday games are being postponed due to COVID-19 issues but several teams with potential issues look to be moving in the right direction. If there’s a much needed silver lining to the Week 5 schedule it’s that the league caught a break from the weather and won’t need to reschedule or otherwise make adjustments due to Hurricane Delta.
We’ll start with the weather issues since it isn’t as complex as the COVID-19 mess. Hurricane Delta made landfall as a Category 2 storm on Friday night with winds approaching 100 mph. That might not sound like good news but keep in mind the epigraph to this article: ‘it could be worse’. At least that’s the case for our ‘mission critical’ discussion, the NFL game to be played Monday night in New Orleans. On a macro level, Louisiana is having a tough time of it off of back to back hurricane strikes. Hurricane Laura hit in almost the exact same place (just over 10 miles away if you’re scoring at home) in August.
The initial concern was a potential direct hit on New Orleans but instead Hurricane Delta made landfall in Creole, Louisiana which is 230 miles west. It did disrupt the Missouri-LSU game which was forced to move to Columbia, MO from Baton Rouge, LA but the New Orleans Saints reportedly were able to practice at the Superdome and with the storm weakening and moving out of the area Monday’s game doesn’t look to be an issue. The NFL had a contingency plan to move the game to Indianapolis if the weather became an issue. A bigger issue now is the status of Saints’ WR Michael Thomas, who is listed as questionable for this week’s game.
Now, the COVID-19 issues. Two Week 5 games have been rescheduled due to COVID-19. The Broncos-Patriots game moves from Sunday to Monday night while the Titans-Bills game moves from Sunday to Tuesday. Both matchups are contingent on no additional positive tests. The Bills-Chiefs game, which was scheduled for Thursday, will instead be moved to Oct. 18, once again assuming no additional positive tests for Tennessee.
There had been concerns that the Kansas City Chiefs’ home game against Las Vegas would be postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test of a KC staff member. The Don Best live odds feed sent an alert earlier today indicating that the game ‘is expected to be played as scheduled’ as there have been no additional positive COVID-19 tests:
The New York Jets also had a positive test earlier this week but that turned out to be a ‘false positive’. All players, coaches and personnel tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday and Don Best has reported that Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals will be played as scheduled:
At ESPN, Dan Graziano made the point that so far 64 of the 65 games that should be played by now have been played. It hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s not really accurate to characterize the NFL’s COVID-19 situation as particularly distressing:
This has already been an exhausting season, and we’re only a month into it. It’s going to continue to be exhausting, because constant vigilance can’t help but be so. The premise under which we’re all operating is that it will be worth it, because we love football and want to be able to watch it (or play it, or coach it, whatever the case is). The past couple of weeks have been worrisome, but they haven’t been devastating. Sixty-four of the sixty-five games that were supposed to be played by now have been played. Players who have tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered and returned to practices and games. Most everybody seems to have grasped the message and decided that forgoing some parts of their personal lives is the necessary cost if they want to keep working.
And so the NFL presses on, well aware that this might not work but determined to try. We won’t know for sure whether the 2020 season can be completed until it has. The evidence we have so far shows us that it won’t be easy but that it’s not impossible.
The situation can always change overnight but at least so far it looks as if the NFL–with a few lucky breaks here and there–have things at least reasonably well in hand.