Coronavirus makes first attack on NFL
Oh boy, all the fun and games could come to a screeching halt if the NFL, its teams and its players aren’t careful.
With the Tennessee Titans being kept out of their building until Saturday due to eight positive tests for the coronavirus, we’re on a precipice like we saw with Major League Baseball barely a week into their revamped season in July.
As of this writing, it looks like the Titans’ home game vs. Pittsburgh will be moved to Monday or Tuesday. I’m going to keep it listed as a Sunday game since we really don’t know when exactly it will be played.
Back to looking at baseball for just a minute. Remember back at the start of their season, the Miami Marlins lost about a week due to tests that kept coming back positive for several days in a row. It then hit the St. Louis Cardinals and got a few other teams to a lesser extent.
It all seems to have worked out as nearly every regular-season game was made up despite there being very few off-days built into the schedule.
The wonders of seven-inning games in doubleheaders … not something the NFL can pull off — even two games in one week would seem highly irregular, as in a call for unfair treatment, one would think.
There was talk that the NFL’s Week 2 matchups paired off a lot of teams that had the same bye weeks. But Week 2 has come and gone and I highly doubt the league could pull that off much more than two or three times all season.
With the Minnesota Vikings also affected as they played the Titans just this past Sunday, it may affect two games this weekend. It was reported that the Vikings facility would just be closed Wednesday, assuming no positive tests come to light with them.
Going on the assumption that all games will be played, here’s this week’s picks:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Denver at New York Jets — The Broncos might think they should get to play a coronavirus-affected team after their tribulations with injured quarterbacks. They do get the Jets, who are like a walking sick ward.
Ex-NFL QB Mark Rypien’s nephew Brett Rypien gets the start for the Broncos, and he showed his stuff in Denver’s final drive of an 18-point loss. That’s all I need to see against the Jets. Broncos, 24-20.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Arizona at Carolina — The Panthers apparently sang “Kumbaya” last week, with players introducing themselves to each other and telling a little about themselves in the lockerroom.
I kid you not, that’s what the Associated Press said might’ve help get Carolina its first win.
Sorry, I’ll take Kyler Murray over Kumbaya any day, and hopefully the former is annoyed over losing to the visiting 11-loss-in-a-row Detroit Lions last weekend, too. Cardinals, 27-21.
Indianapolis at Chicago — This Indy thing is what worries me about “reverse momentum”: the Colts have won two straight to get to 2-1, but over opponents with a combined record of 1-8 (and that “1” is their Week 1 loss to Jacksonville).
They seem prime to be plucked, and the Bears can do some second-half plucking the way they come back. Bears, 30-19.
Jacksonville at Cincinnati — For Bengals QB Joe Burrow, apparently you have to learn to tie before you can win. These are two still-bad teams despite a few flashes of brilliance in Week 1. On a lark, I’ll take the Jaguars, 20-15.
Cleveland at Dallas — Baker Mayfield has led the Browns to their first winning record since 2011, at 2-1. Time to regress again. Cowboys, 33-20.
New Orleans at Detroit — The Saints get to see all the NFC North has to offer after the Packers gave them the runaround on Monday night. N’awlins gets to do the running this time. Saints, 31-23.
Minnesota at Houston — Possibly the first game affected by the new coronavirus outbreak. Here’s thinking the Vikings will be disrupted, even if they’re locked out of their training facility for just two days. Texans, 27-19.
Seattle at Miami — The longest possible trip in the NFL, the northwest corner of the country to the farthest southeast. And it’s a 1 p.m. game, meaning it’s a 10 a.m. game for these Left Coasters. But because of the disparity in talent, Seahawks, 29-19.
Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay — The Chargers are one of Tom Brady’s former rivals, but he won’t recognize these guys without Philip Rivers behind center.
Instead, there’s a kid quite literally — or just a shade more — than half of Brady’s age in rookie Justin Herbert. (they’re actually 43 and 22, Brady’s the one who’s 43). I’ll take the cantankerous veteran, mainly because of all the weapons he’s surrounded with. Buccaneers 33-26.
Pittsburgh at Tennessee — I’m wondering if this game will even get played, and it sounds like the Steelers are too. Assuming they do go on time, Steelers 24-16.
Baltimore at Washington — These cities are 35 miles apart, but in the NFL, they’re more like 35 wins apart. Well, OK, let’s say a more reasonable eight wins, the difference between 12-4 and 4-12. Gimme the projected 12-4 Ravens, 40-21.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams — The Rams must be wondering why they couldn’t have played Buffalo at home last weekend and this New York team on the road now. They might be 3-0 looking at 4-0 otherwise. Rams, 40-17.
New England at Kansas City — Ya go to Baltimore, ya make mincemeat of their supposed staunch defense and ya wonder why I keep pickin’ ya? Chiefs, 36-29.
Buffalo at Las Vegas — This matchup makes me think of an upstate New York steel mill worker (Buffalo) going on vacation to Sin City (Las Vegas). But these Bills know how to gamble intelligently and if you pick the right game, you can go home with a handsome profit. Bills, 24-19.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Philadelphia at San Francisco — What’s worse than two bad teams playing in prime time? A 40-point blowout, I would imagine.
That’s what this would’ve been if it hadn’t been for all of the 49ers’ injuries that struck them in Week 2. However, Nick Mullens rolled up nearly 350 yards passing last weekend for San Fran, though that was against the woeful Giants. These Eagles are looking nearly as woeful. 49ers, 27-17.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Atlanta at Green Bay — I just can’t see the Falcons coughing up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter for the third straight game. That’s mainly because I just can’t see how the heck would they ever get that big a lead on the Packers. You can go to bed at halftime…. Zzzzz …. Packers, 38-23.
Last week — 10-5-1, 66 percent. Season — 31-16-1, 66 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.