Coronavirus starting to rear its ugly head again with NFL teams
The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the Dallas Cowboys this week just as they need to find a way to get a win and right their ship.
I’m actually surprised there haven’t been more big outbreaks like this, which as of this writing was affecting two players and a half-dozen coaches in that organization as they prepare to play New Orleans tonight.
There have been individual players here and there who’ve had to miss games, most notably reigning MVP and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers just a few weeks ago.
Remember about this time last season when several games had to be pushed back because of COVID? There had been a couple games fully postponed for about a month earlier that season, but the NFL got lucky that their scheduling worked out to be able to push those games into the affected teams’ bye weeks.
Then at around this late stage of last season with almost no byes left, there was nowhere to put any postponed games and the league got lucky that a couple days’ delays was all that was needed to get those games in.
At the time, I thought the league might have to add a week to end of the regular season if they really wanted to get all the games in, which would’ve cascaded into the playoffs and pushed back the Super Bowl at least a week.
Now there’s been a policy put in place that if unvaccinated players with COVID keep a team from being able to play a game, it will be forfeited.
Of course, if vaccinated players get COVID, then what do you do?
For another take on this, let me refer to Pro Football Talk, a 9-to-11 a.m. weekday TV program I enjoy on NBC Sports. I get to watch it as much as I want nowadays since I work almost exclusively nights.
Host Mike Florio of this no-frills program brought up the point, I believe last week, that he thinks that so many vaccinated players get COVID because many aren’t really vaccinated.
All of this seems to lurk just “behind the curtain.”
So back in front of the curtain with a look at this week’s games:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Dallas at New Orleans — Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. The Cowboys are missing a bunch of coaches, including head man Mike McCarthy, and several players. The Saints look like they’ll be able to start Taysom Hill, their Mr. Everything. Saints, 27-23.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta — With Rob Gronkowski available as possibly the league’s best mismatch, all should be right again with Tampa. Buccaneers, 31-24.
Arizona at Chicago — Coming off their team’s bye, the Cardinals have their own mismatch with QB Kyler Murray, who should also be available. Cardinals, 28-20.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati — I don’t like a West Coast team playing a 1 p.m. game — that’s 10 a.m. their time — especially with the rollercoaster play of the Chargers. Bengals, 26-17.
Minnesota at Detroit — With the Lions being the worst at just about everything, Minnesota by comparison looks like a pretty potent offense even if Dalvin Cook can’t run the ball. And the Lions’ D’Andre Swift also probably won’t play. Vikings, 33-29.
Indianapolis at Houston — Both lost last week, but there’s a world of difference between the Texans’ seven-point loss to the New York Jets and the Colts’ seven-point loss to Tampa Bay. Colts, 34-24.
New York Giants at Miami — After New England, I’m told the second-hottest team in the league is Miami, which has a four-game winning streak. The Giants should be happy they even have a one-game win streak. Dolphins, 23-16.
Philadelphia at New York Jets — How embarrassing would it be for the Eagles to lose to both New York teams in back-to-back weeks? That’s what Philly is facing, so expect a motivated bunch. Eagles, 30-20.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Washington at Las Vegas — It seems like Vegas has found its stride, at least temporarily, which is what you can say about the vast majority of teams this season. I’ll take a flyer on this one. Raiders, 27-24.
Jacksonville at Los Angeles Rams — I don’t know what happened to this all-star team of La-La Land, but I’m thinking the Kool-Aid the Jaguars will bring with them should help nicely. Rams, 24-20.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh — The Steelers are just about dead in the water with their downhill slide and plague of injuries. Ravens, 23-13.
San Francisco at Seattle — The 49ers might lose their juggernaut status with some new injuries, but it shouldn’t matter against the Seahawks. 49ers, 31-23.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Denver at Kansas City — I thought I was pretty smart when I picked the Broncos to beat the Chargers last week. Yeah, but this week there’s no more altitude advantage, but instead a whole lot of Patrick Mahomes. Chiefs, 33-27.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
New England at Buffalo — It’s not too late for Buffalo to “circle the wagons,” as ESPN’s Chris Berman used to always say. But it’s too late to slow the New England express right about now. Patriots, 34-20.
Last week — 8-7, 53 percent (now six straight weeks with eight wins or seven and a tie). Season — 110-69, 61 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.