The NFL starts its five-week stretch run to the end of the regular season Sunday as it tries to outrun the virus.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said he has no plans for a leaguewide bubble with all the teams in one spot, but let’s hope he considers putting the playoff teams isolated in a hotel since the virus figures to be raging January with a post-holiday surge.
In the playoffs, the NFL won’t be able to postpone a game three times the way they did with the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game.
—The Steelers are becoming the kings of midweek afternoon TV. They played Wednesday afternoon last week and now will play at 5 p.m. Monday against Washington. This is a shot for Washington, tied for first place in the NFC East with the Giants at 4-7, to pull off an upset. The Steelers are unbeaten at 11-0 but all the changes in their schedule seem to be taking a toll. They didn’t play well against a Baltimore team that was depleted by the virus. The game will be shown to much of the country on Sunday Ticket. It will be shown on Fox in 71 markets in the northeast and part of the Midwest plus Kansas City, Dallas, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. But not in Houston, Indianapolis, Nashville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Miami. Weird.
—With all the schedule changes, there was no Thursday night game, but there will be a Tuesday night game pitting Dallas at Baltimore, which is still recovering from its Covid outbreak. The Sunday nght game is likely to be a mismatch with Kansas City expected to beat Denver. The Monday night game features Buffalo at San Francisco and is critical for both teams but will be played in Arizona because the 49ers are barred from using their home stadium.
—The doubleheader game Sunday afternoon is a lackluster game featuring Philadelphia at Green Bay, which figures to be a mismatch in favor of Green Bay. The other CBS late game – New England at the Chargers — matches two losing teams but is likely to be a more entertaining game.
—The best early game features Cleveland at Tennessee, which has playoff implications for both teams.
—The best matchup of the day will have Jalen Ramsey of the Rams covering DeAndre Hopkins of the Cardinals. It will be shown in Jacksonville, where Ramsey started his career before becoming disenchanted with the team. He then forced a trade.