Let the juggling begin
This week is the first with major changes in the NFL schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But it won’t be the last, and if things don’t get better, may not even be the week with the most earth-shaking changes.
Regardless of what you think of all these precautions, none of these kinds of big enterprises, which include pro sports, will be able to avoid having their operations severely affected if outbreaks can’t be controlled.
If for nothing else, they have to save face by showing they aren’t aiding the spread of a virus that unfortunately has killed somewhere around 200,000 people just in the U.S.
For this week, Thursday’s originally scheduled game was moved back four days, while two matchups were changed on Sunday.
It’s making one team that expected to play this weekend take the week off, and another that was going to enjoy its bye instead will be playing.
Thursday’s Kansas City at Buffalo game was moved to Monday, specifically late Monday afternoon as yet another Monday doubleheader. The Bills just played Tuesday night and football isn’t a game where you try to play two games in three days.
The other matchup changes are allowing — at least for now — teams to get their 16 games in during the 17-week season.
No more Miami at Denver game, and you won’t see the New York Jets play at the Los Angeles Chargers either — at least not this week, as those games have been moved up by as many as six weeks.
The replacement games involve three of those teams as Denver will now play at New England and the Jets go to Miami.
The Broncos-Patriots game was supposed to be played last Sunday but couldn’t due to too many positive tests registered at New England’s team facility.
So without further ado, let’s look at this weekend’s schedule:
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Chicago at Carolina — Two teams coming off unexpected wins last week, the Bears over Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay and the Panthers over Atlanta. OK, well, Carolina was only an underdog for those who still have quite low expectations for them. Panthers, 31-27.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis — The Colts have beaten a bunch of downtrodden teams in getting to 3-2. But don’t the Bengals still qualify for that category? There’s talk this game could be postponed due to some positive tests in Indianapolis, though apparently retests showed they were false positives. Colts, 28-20.
Detroit at Jacksonville — Have you heard that the Jaguars are on their fifth placekicker in six weeks? So I think Detroit will play just well enough to lose, but Jacksonville won’t be able to take advantage when they muff an extra point or field goal — or both, maybe multiple times. Lions, 30-29.
Atlanta at Minnesota — Remember, while there are home fields this season, there isn’t a home-field advantage. But there is a new coach in Atlanta. Falcons, 26-21.
Washington at New York Giants — The good news for these teams? One is a game out of first place, the other two games back in the NFC East. The bad news? Combined they have a 1-9 record. Bleech. Washington, 24-19.
Baltimore at Philadelphia — If the Eagles were playing the remaining NFC East team — that’s Dallas — I’d like their chances. Instead, they have to play a professional team. Ravens, 29-19.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh — The Steelers qualify as a defensive juggernaut since they only give up 22 points a game, sixth best in the NFL. But that’s enough to throw a monkey wrench into the Mayfield-Beckham offense. Steelers, 33-20.
Houston at Tennessee — OK, I’m convinced about Tennessee. Especially when the one-week bounce you get from a new coach wears off for the Texans. Titans, 23-17.
Denver at New England — One week doesn’t change the fortunes of these teams. Especially with Cam Newton back from his imposed coronavirus asylum. Unfortunately, it was reported Friday that New England had another positive test. I’ll assume they’re playing, so Patriots, 34-19.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
New York Jets at Miami — This really isn’t much of a gift for Miami, as the Dolphins were originally supposed to play the nearly-as-bad Broncos. Dolphins, 40-13.
Green Bay at Tampa Bay — The whole country will get to see how much younger … oops, better … that Aaron Rodgers is than Tom Brady in the year 2020. Even facing a better defense that the Bucs put out there. Packers, 33-23.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco — The 49ers need some time to get Jimmy Garappolo back to normal. In the meantime, Rams, 27-16.
Monday, 5 p.m.
Kansas City at Buffalo — The Chiefs seem like the kind of team that takes a loss to heart. KC lost to the Raiders last weekend. Chiefs, 31-23.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys — These teams should consider themselves lucky the NFL or the TV networks didn’t bump this game to 5 p.m. Maybe that’s because Arizona is 3-2 and Dallas is a first-place team. Just don’t tell anyone the Cowboys are 2-3. Cardinals, 39-34.
Last week — 8-6, 57 percent. Season — 48-28-1, 63 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.