What are the NFL’s options if there are additional positive COVID tests in 2020?

Andrew Gillis
·2 min read

What are the NFL’s options if there are additional positive COVID tests? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As the NFL works through the recent positive tests with the Ravens, it’s natural for fans to look for answers. 

But right now, the league doesn’t have the answers because there’s simply no way to know those answers. On ESPN on Thanksgiving morning, Adam Schefter presented the various options that the league has at its disposal. 

“You’re asking for answers that are frankly just not available right now,” Schefter told Mike Greenberg. 

Wednesday, the NFL canceled Ravens-Steelers on Thanksgiving night after the Ravens tested positive for COVID-19 on four-straight days. The game was moved to Sunday, and while the league feels better about the chances of playing that day, it’s not guaranteed just yet.

Should the worst-case scenario take place and a game, or even if the Ravens-Steelers game specifically is unable to be played, there’s a bevy of things the league could do to fix the schedule.

Schefter suggested they could add a Week 18 and push the Super Bowl back a week. If an additional week to the regular season is necessary, then it’s been suggested that Week 17 turn into a bye week for whichever teams do not have to make up games. That way, there won’t be any competitive advantage or disadvantage entering Wild Card Weekend of the NFL Playoffs. 

He also suggested that a team could forfeit a game, though that scenario only seems possible if they are found to be in gross violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. 

More likely, however, is the scenario that games are simply not played and the playoffs are based on win percentage. For example, a 10-5 team would make the playoffs over a 10-6 team as their win percentage will have been better. In some cases, a team could either catch a break or be out of luck. 

If a team misses a game, the league could add eight playoff teams per conference and skip out on byes altogether to ensure the playoffs are more fair than they otherwise would have been if teams have to miss games.

Right now, there’s a chance that 32 teams will not play 16 games each. But that’s as far as anyone can go.

”How it shakes out, nobody can say right now because we’ve never been in a situation like this,” Schefter said.