COVID-19 & The NFL Playoff Bubble?
As we head towards the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Season, the NFL is feeling the effects of COVID-19. Creating a bubble for its playoffs would help ensure enough competitive balance.
Multiple teams are having outbreaks and the Denver Broncos just started a practice squad WR at QB against the Saints. While unlikely to happen again, it’s not impossible for this to happen again in this unique NFL season.
There should be no bye week for the top seed in each conference, instead the playoffs are delayed one week to allow teams to get the playoffs in two centralized locations. One location would house the NFC playoff teams, the other location contains the AFC playoff teams.
This also would allow teams to isolate those who are deemed whom may have been exposed to the virus and isolate anyone who tests positive. Adding an eighth team to the playoffs in each conference would make up for the loss of home-field advantage
Some teams are not allowing any fans and those that do are only allowing a limited amount of fans into their games anyway (around 25%). Yes, a bubble takes makes home-field advantage practically meaningless, but 12,000 fans shouldn’t keep the NFL from preventing a disaster. As the NFL is going now, we are a single offensive lineman or running back getting COVID from key players having to go on the COVID-Reserve list for being close contacts.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario that could take place, as of right now Seattle would host Tampa Bay in the wild-card round. Let’s say a center for Tampa Bay and a running back for Seattle test positive for COVID days before the game happens. This makes it likely that both Russell Wilson and Tom Brady would be close contacts, which means its Geno Smith Vs. Blaine Gabbert in a playoff game.
This scenario alone should be the reason the NFL finds a way to create a bubble for the playoffs.
Logistically, it’ll be nightmare like to find two locations that each hold 8 NFL teams and their staffs. But if we’ve learned anything, it’s the NFL has the power to do just about anything. They can reschedule games to Tuesday or force a team to start a practice squad WR at QB.
Maybe the NFL has the arrogance that people will watch any playoff football no matter what or maybe the NFL doesn’t care if their champion is the team that best avoided an outbreak. Perhaps the players don’t want anything to do with a bubble.
(Which I find hard to believe, especially if the team thinks they genuinely have a chance win a championship)
The NFL is playing with fire and the odds of a star-player or players missing a playoff game are increasing with each day.
While a playoff bubble is ultimately unlikely, if the NFL were to pull it off, it could make for a great slate of games. 16 teams, 8 per conference, playing on neutral fields, each with their full complement of players, vying for a championship.
Maybe this season ends with Mahomes and Rodgers, squaring off for the first time
Or maybe it’s Chad Henne and Tim Boyle…