The coronavirus pandemic has destroyed all essence of a potentially normal year. That statement could not be more true for the sporting world, which took a major hit with the announcements that all leagues would be suspended back in early-to-mid March of 2020.
For the NFL, their season hasn’t even got underway yet, but with the start pencilled in for September, the league is still attempting to aim for that date. With training camps expected to open soon, all eyes will be focused on that first game between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday September 11, with the Texans currently at odds of 37/10 and the Chiefs at 2/9. As time draws nearer, check out the free picks and parlays NFL to keep updated on where the odds are narrowing.
However, will that game even take place? Will the NFL even be able to come remotely close to reaching conclusion this season?
Schedule that Impresses
Assembling the schedule is not exactly an easy thing to produce, even under normal circumstances. Bring in the backdrop of a pandemic and that creation just took on a whole different level of difficulty.
Organizers faced the most complicated schedule in league history with 256 games, 17 weeks, six time slots, five networks and four possible game days -Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday- with no actual guarantee that the pandemic wouldn’t put a stop to it all before it’s even begun.
But with perseverance comes reward and organizers have done their best to take into account any possible contingency plans. In week 2, for example, teams that have the same off week go head-to-head. Thus if these games require postponing, they could simply be made up during the respective off weeks of those teams.
There are no off weeks and no divisional rivalries in Weeks 3 and 4 either, giving every team a home and away fixture during that period. This ensures that the league maintains its fairness if those games had to be canceled.
Some Level of Harsh Realism Must be put Forward
This detailed regular-season schedule highlights the fact that the league is determined to get through Week One and then, if necessary, stand back and reassess the situation. However, as the pandemic continues to spread across the United States, it’s becoming less probable that the sport will be able to thrive in anything but its own confined bubble.
Even then though, it’s too late to create a bubble for 32 teams of over 50 players and coaching staff as well as practice squads who would be kept inside such a bubble for nearly six months. And, with major stars speaking out against the commitment to honour the fixture list, the league could be faced with its own internal revolt.
It’s likely that the league, if it does go ahead, will hold games in front of limited or absent crowds with odds of 1/4 for crowdless stadiums. And, for some states such as California, it’s not clear whether some teams will be allowed to play given the latest hot spots.
The virus holds all the cards
Unfortunately, the impending future depends solely on what the virus is capable of. The NFL has come up with a plan as best as possible, or so it seems, but the novel coronavirus doesn’t care about a football schedule.
Despite hopes that the league will kick off as planned, all involved must know that they cannot beat mother nature. Whether the COVID-19 pandemic is still as potent two months down the line as it is today remains to be seen, but schedule planners, fans, coaches, staff, ownership and the players must prepare for any eventuality.