It was bound to happen eventually. An apparent Covid outbreak has arisen following one of the NFL’s Week 3 games and it just so happens to affect the Pittsburgh Steelers for their upcoming matchup. The Tennessee Titans have had several players and team personnel test positive for COVID-19 and the titans have shut down their facility and reportedly will not be allowed back until Saturday. This is per ESPN’s Diana Russini:
The Titans will not be allowed in their building until Saturday. Everything will be done remotely.— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) September 29, 2020
This is going to be a big challenge for the organization and the league.
First of all, the NFL has only made a statement that the Titans and Vikings facilities will be closed for today. The league has put protocols in place on how to deal with a Covid outbreak and those protocols need to run their course. This is per Brian McCarthy of NFL public relations:
Does this mean that the Titans can get back to practice? The answer to those questions will remain to be seen. More importantly, what are the options for playing the game?
Here are a few scenarios the NFL could consider. Of course, these are my own thought processes and whether or not schedule changes with the facilities would work out is information I do not have available. But let’s at least look at what could happen:
The show must go on
With the protocols in place by the NFL, the Titans may just have to hold virtual practices this week and go forward with the players who are not on the Reverse/COVID-19 List. The reason all these things are in place is for games to still take place. Does this put the Titans at a bit of a disadvantage? It would be difficult to argue that it would not. But at the same time the NFL does not like to disrupt their schedule if it all possible.
Two games on Monday night, or one on Tuesday
While I don’t see the NFL changing the kickoff time for the regularly scheduled game between the Atlanta Falcons visiting the Green Bay Packers next Monday, the NFL could slide the Steelers-Titans game to Monday to give the Titans a little more preparation. They could simply have both games played at the same time, or they could run the game at Tennessee in the late afternoon. Exactly where they would put the game it’s completely up to the league. Although this scenario is possible, the one extra day may not be that much of a benefit to even bother.
There’s also the possibility the game can get bumped back all the way to Tuesday. But in doing so, it would create a very short week for both squads going into Week 5. But if the NFL doesn’t have a better option, I expect a game to be played on an odd day rather than not at all.
The Steelers now have their bye in Week 4
If the NFL needs to postpone this week’s game, there is a way to make it work by only affecting one other NFL franchise. First, the Steelers and Titans do not have the same bye week so simply moving the game there is not an option. The Titans bye comes in Week 7 while the Steelers bye occurs in Week 8. The Steelers Week 7 opponent is the Baltimore Ravens, who just so also happen to have a bye in Week 8 as well. It is possible the Steelers could face the Titans in Week 7 instead of the Ravens and move their matchup in Baltimore to the following week. This means the Steelers and Titans would both have byes this coming week in Week 4 and the Ravens bye week would simply be shifted up from Week 8 to Week 7.
So there are some scenarios which the NFL could consider when it comes to the Steelers game this weekend. As for the Vikings, they don’t play in the AFC North so, frankly, the NFL can figure that out on their own. As much as we want to look forward to our Steelers playing on Sunday, right now it appears we are in a “wait-and-see” mode until the NFL decides how they will handle this outbreak.
Stay tuned to BTSC for all the updates and latest news on the Steelers’ “supposed” upcoming match up with the Tennessee Titans.