Just as medical professionals predicted, the U.S. is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases with the cold weather approaching. Nearly every state is experiencing a sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and the country has exceeded 267,000 deaths from the pandemic so far.
The NFL is no exception, with players and coaching staff testing positive for the virus, causing postponed games and a limited roster of players. The Tennessee Titans had to reschedule their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the year. The Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers had to go ahead with their game as scheduled, despite an abundance of positive tests for the virus and the 49ers being hampered by injuries.
The pandemic has been a nightmare on many fronts and has presented headache-inducing scenarios for sports bettors and handicappers alike. Due to the unknowns of how COVID-19 will strike NFL players and coaching staffs, the rescheduling and roster availability causes constant betting changes.
During Week 12, the Denver Broncos were forced to start Kendall Hinton, a practice squad wide receiver, under center after all their quarterbacks were considered “high-risk exposures” and were barred from playing. After the announcement, the betting line shifted from Saints (-6.5) to Saints (-17). The massive shift likely costs sportsbooks millions after news broke. The Saints won 31-3, while .
There Is No Immediate End In Sight
Although the arrival and distribution of a vaccine are still several months away, medical professionals cannot give a definitive date when the vaccines will be available and what segment of the population will be administered those vaccines first.
These canceled and postponed games have been historic. Before COVID-19, the NFL hasn’t outright canceled a game since 1974. With various players, coaches, and other staff having COVID-19 maladies, the NFL has still decided to forge ahead with scheduled games.
Due to local regulations, the 49ers may not be able to play games in their home stadium for the remainder of the season. The NFL will need an answer in short order for where those games could be played.
Contact Tracing Has Not Been Enough For NFL
Although staff and players are subject to daily COVID-testing and exhausting contact tracing throughout the league, the cases are still climbing and proving to be a huge problem. There also appears to be a lack of consistency throughout the league. The San Francisco 49ers and the Las Vegas Raiders were required to play games despite many players testing positive for the virus. Meanwhile, other teams like the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, and Titans saw their games postponed when players tested positive in their games.
The inconsistency in what games get rescheduled and which games don’t is a frustrating question for fans, sportsbooks, and even the players. Several Steelers players took to Twitter to question the rescheduling process. The Steelers effectively lost their bye week when their matchup with the Titans was rescheduled, and their time off following the Thanksgiving Day game would’ve been their longest period of rest since the season began.