COVID is starting to tackle the NFL.
Following another positive test on Thursday, the Tennessee Titans have now had 23 members of the organization—including 13 players—test positive for the novel coronavirus. Their game against the 4-0 Buffalo Bills on Sunday is now in jeopardy, according to ESPN. Worse still, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gillmore, tested positive for the virus on Tuesday (results were confirmed on Wednesday), just one day after his team’s 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. That game had been rescheduled from Sunday after Cam Newton, the Pats starting quarterback, and a practice squad player tested positive for COVID-19. And the same week 10 Las Vegas Raiders players were fined for not wearing masks at a charity event, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was placed on the reserve/ COVID-19 list.
With over 1,700 players in the NFL, it was inevitable that there would be some positive COVID tests during the pandemic. But both the league and its players have to do a better job moving forward, or the season could go off the rails. In hindsight, it was reckless to move the Patriots game to Monday night, when there wasn’t enough time to assess the full scope of the outbreak. And the Associated Press reports that the Titans could be facing “historic” punishment from the NFL after a group of players reportedly broke protocol to work out at a Nashville-area high school while the team’s facilities were closed.
That punishment could include the league forcing Tennessee to forfeit Sunday’s game against the Bills, since they already used up their bye week after last week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was moved to Week 7. Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Denver Broncos is also in doubt, and postponing it would trigger a cascading effect across the schedule. The league’s logistics make an NBA-style bubble all but impossible, but if this continues, the NFL may be forced to get creative to salvage the season.
UPDATE 2: The game between the Titans and Bills has been moved to Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 7pm ET on CBS, pending no more positive test results from Tennessee. After a third Patriots player tested positive for COVID-19, the Broncos-Patriots game was been postponed to Week 6. As a result, eight games have been rescheduled, including four Los Angeles Chargers games. Click here to see the revised schedule.
We’re only a quarter of the way through the season, so it’s still way too soon to start making projections (outside of the New York Jets getting the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft). But if there’s any other prediction to get behind, it’s Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson winning his first MVP award. Wilson’s projected stats are historic; with 1,285 yards and 16 TD’s in the first four weeks, he’s pacing for a 5,100 yard season and 64 touchdowns, which would shatter Peyton Manning’s 2013 record of 55. Even better, Wilson has his team 4-0 in the NFL’s toughest division, the NFC West. It’s unrealistic to assume he can continue at this pace, but if he can guide his team to another division title and the lone bye week in an expanded playoff field, Russell may have some new hardware when it’s all said and done.
At 1-3, the Minnesota Vikings have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL, but they may have saved their season with last week’s comeback win against the Houston Texans. Running back Dalvin Cook was a big part of that and he’s been outstanding overall: He leads the league in rushing yards (424), rushing first downs (25) and rushing TDs (6). If Minnesota’s inconsistent but talented defense can get some stops and Cook gets cooking, they could pull off the upset over the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football.
Check out the full NFL Week 5 schedule below, we’ll continue to update if any of this weekend’s games are rescheduled.
Bye Week: Green Bay, Detroit
|Date||Time (ET)||Away Team||Home Team||Channel|
|Thu, Oct 8||8:20 PM||(3-2) Tampa Bay Buccanneers||(4-1) Chicago Bears||CHI Wins 20-19|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(2-2) Carolina Panthers||(0-4) Atlanta Falcons||FOX*|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(2-2) Las Vegas Raiders||(4-0) Kansas City Chiefs||CBS^|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(2-2) Arizona Cardinals||(0-4) New York Jets||FOX*|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(1-2-1) Philadelphia Eagles||(3-0) Pittsburgh Steelers||FOX*|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(3-1) LA Rams||(1-3) Washington||FOX*|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(1-2-1) Cincinnati Bengals||(3-1) Baltimore Ravens||CBS^|
|Sun, Oct 11||1:00 PM||(1-3) Jacksonville Jaguars||(0-4) Houston Texans||CBS^|
|Sun, Oct 11||4:05 PM||(1-3) Miami Dolphins||(2-2) San Francisco 49ers||FOX*|
|Sun, Oct 11||4:25 PM||(3-1) Indianapolis Colts||(3-1) Cleveland Browns||CBS^|
|Sun, Oct 11||4:25 PM||(0-4) New York Giants||(1-3) Dallas Cowboys||CBS^|
|Sun, Oct 11||8:20 PM||(1-3) Minnesota Vikings||(4-0) Seattle Seahawks||NBC*|
|PPD||PPD||(1-3) Denver Broncos||(2-2) New England Patriots||PPD|
|Mon, Oct 12||8:15 PM||(1-3) LA Chargers||(2-2) New Orleans Saints||ESPN|
|Tue, Oct 13||7:00 PM||(4-0) Buffalo Bills||(3-0) Tennessee Titans||CBS^|
^ Full game not available on Sling
*Games may be restricted based on market
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