Thanksgiving NFL This Year On A Diet

Seven Ravens players, and at least three staff members, have tested positive for the coronavirus, which has forced the NFL to move tomorrow’s game.  So far, over the past three days, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, quarterback Trace McSorley, center Matt Skura, guard Patrick Mekari, defensive end Calais Campbell and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee have been found to be carrying the virus and the league felt it better to give both teams a little more time to see if any more players were contagious. 

The NFL said in a statement about the schedule change, "This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts.”  Now, the Thanksgiving game will be played this coming Sunday, unless something else happens between now and then.

Steelers Not Happy
There have already been 13 games rescheduled in the NFL this year and the move doesn’t sit well with most Steelers players.  One, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, voiced his disappointment on Twitter, saying, “First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can't get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason.”

Pittsburgh was forced to have its bye week moved from Week 8 to Week 4 earlier this season after the Tennessee Titans suffered a coronavirus outbreak.  That forced the Steelers to also move its previous game against the Ravens back a week, but Pittsburgh got its revenge.  It beat Baltimore 28-24. 

This could actually turn out to be a good thing for the Steelers.  They’re 10-0 in the NFL standings and are looking great to take the NFC this year; however, they were going to play tomorrow’s game coming off a short week.  Granted, they didn’t have much difficulty in either of their last two games, but a four-day break can lead to less energy and the possibility of increased injuries.  Now, they get a couple more days to rest up and get ready to keep their perfect record running. 

The Ravens Slip
On the other hand, the Ravens will now be a little weaker for their game against the Steelers this coming Sunday.  In addition, they’re going to face a short week next week, as they will have to turn around and play the Dallas Cowboys next Thursday.  That’s the price for not ensuring everyone follows anti-COVID-19 policies.  One player testing positive would be understandable, but seven (and three staffers) indicates a complete breakdown in control. 

If more players test positive, there’s a chance the game won’t even be able to appear on this Sunday’s card.  The NFL will be conducting a lot of tests between now and then to see whether the game can move on.  If not, there exists a strong possibility that this could be the first year football fans get to enjoy an 18-week season.  There’s virtually no time to slide a rescheduled game into an empty slot in the regular 17 weeks, and adding more days to the end of the season would be the most likely scenario.

While that might make fans happy, it probably won’t go over well with the Ravens.  The NFL is likely to launch an investigation into how so many people associated with the team can test positive for COVID-19 at virtually the same time and, if the league determines that protocols were broken, it could spell disaster for Baltimore.  The NFL has already said that it would fine teams that violated the rules and that it would also pull draft picks if necessary.  It would seem that Baltimore may not have gotten that memo. 

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