The NFL Needs a Week 18

NFL Week 18

As we near the Winter portion of the 2020 NFL season during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has remained painfully clear: the NFL needs a Week 18.

The NFL was already forced to cancel the majority of the preseason activities this season and due to the nature of the pandemic, the coronavirus has not skipped on infecting NFL players this season.

The Coronavirus Has Plagued the NFL

The Tennessee Titans were amongst the first teams to be heavily exposed causing the NFL to move their schedule around. Their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers had to be rescheduled several weeks later which ended up forfeiting Pittsburgh’s bye week.

Almost every team has had to deal with resting players who have become sick — which has shifted NFL rosters in its own way.

The Denver Broncos were without a quarterback in Week 12 due to every eligible quarterback coming into contact with the coronavirus in a number of ways. Pittsburgh once again finds themselves in a will-they-or-won’t-they-play scenario against the Baltimore Ravens.

With Baltimore needing a win desperately against undefeated Pittsburgh to remain in the AFC playoff hunt, they’ll be without the services of QB Lamar Jackson (tested positive) and 22 other players due to the coronavirus.

Several teams have done their best to get ahead of testing positive by shutting down all facilities and quarantining their infected players, but there’s only so much you can do.

So, what do you do?

That’s when implementing a Week 18 into the 2020 NFL season becomes mandatory.

The NFL Needs a Week 18

When Pittsburgh and Baltimore officially end Week 12 on Tuesday night, there will be just five weeks remaining in the season. Even as the political landscape begins to take shape, the sports world will still have to deal with coronavirus in the next few months.

The rate and risk of contracting the coronavirus will remain high in the NFL and with room running out at the end of the season and beginning the playoffs, there has to be time set aside to make up any lost games.

While the NFL has not forced any team to forfeit, moving games around seems a safe bet to have significant games played. Even as the playoff picture begins to take shape, you can’t assume the X team will win the division or the Y team will clinch the number one seed.

Implementing a Week 18 gives the NFL an easy out to move games that significant value (playoff seeding and divisional winners) and at the very least, gives teams time to recover.

Preparing for the Playoffs

The NFL adding an extra week to the season at this juncture should allow enough time to make sure all 256 games are played because of the coronavirus. But once the playoffs begin, the NFL needs to be stricter on its most profitable part of the season.

What happens if a team has another outbreak? Or a star player tests positive again? What do you do with the playoff schedule? The NFL is considering adding one more playoff team to each conference but comes with the potential for more positive cases.

While other sports such as the NHL and NBA have instituted a playoff bubble — both of which saw high praise for having their playoff games unaffected by the coronavirus — the NFL has to consider something similar once January rolls around.

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