The Tennessee Titans already had one game postponed this season. The team was set to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, before a COVID-19 outbreak hit the locker room. Now, this weekend’s game against the Buffalo Bills may face a similar fate.
The Titans-Steelers game was moved back to Week 7, the Titans’ original bye week. The Steelers’ scheduled game against the Baltimore Ravens was pushed into the teams’ shared Week 8 bye. All things considered, that was a pretty easy fix for the game.
Unfortunately for the NFL, the Titans issue isn’t going away. The team has had new positive tests almost every day since the initial outbreak at the beginning of last week, including two more today. The team facility is still not open.
There’s no reasonable way for the team to play the Bills with two days of preparation. As we all assumed, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport says that the game is “clearly in doubt.” The question becomes: what how does the NFL handle the Titans season?
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 8, 2020
So far, it doesn’t sound like the NFL plans to make the Titans forfeit the game if it can’t be played. That option for teams found to have ignored COVID-19 protocols has been added to the rules, but only recently—after the team’s outbreak occurred.
The league could just take the game off the books completely, though having two potential division champions in Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills play just 15 games is problematic for a number of reasons. The league could also elect to push the playoffs back a week to open up time for spillover games like this, because this very well may happen more, if we already have a major uncontrolled outbreak four weeks into the 17-week season.
In any event, it really doesn’t seem like the NFL adequately planned for this, which was always a likely situation when you see what happened in the MLB during the summer when its season launched.
We should hear more about this game later today.