The NFL’s regular-season schedule surprisingly opens with a bang. In a year during which the NFL could have loaded up the first weekend with so-so games and fans would have lapped it up like malnourished kittens, the league has instead loaded nine division games into Week One.
From the banner raising in Kansas City featuring a return visit from the Houston Texans to the first NFC South meeting between Drew Brees and #Tommy to the christening of the new L.A. stadium with a visit from the Cowboys to an intriguing Monday night doubleheader that opens with two of the league’s most storied franchises (Steelers and Giants) to everything in between (Packers at Vikings, Seahawks at Falcons), it will be a great start to the 2020 season.
The placement of so many great games in Week One suggests that the league is determined to play Week One. As one source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT, the league is definitely committed to and focused on executing the first weekend of the regular season.
Similarly, the next two weeks after Week Two contain the kind of flexibility that would allow the league to regroup after Week One and, if necessary, to press pause. The teams that play in Week Two all have byes in the same weekend, allowing each game to be postponed to a week when the teams otherwise would be off.
Week Three has no division games. Week Four has no division games. If necessary, those weeks could be postponed until after Week 17 or scrapped. By Week Five, however, the division games resume and lost games would have a greater competitive impact.
Thus, the first four weeks of the season suggest that the league can and will proceed with Week One, and that if necessary the league will postpone or cancel the next week or two. Or, at most, three.
It makes sense. Play a slate of games. Monitor the reaction, from a political, P.R., and medical standpoint. Scrap Week Two and push the specific games to the various bye week, if need be. Move Week Three to the week after Week 17. Move Week Four to the week after what would become Week 18.
Then there’s this: By pushing everything back by two total weeks, the Super Bowl would land on President’s Day weekend.
The psychology of this approach is simple. Give the nation a taste of football, make adjustments if required by one or more of the various forms of potential fallout, and assume that the collective groundswell will force football back into action, with the season resuming after missing up to three weeks.
Regardless of whether that’s what happens, the structure of the early weeks of the season suggest that the schedule was specifically engineered to allow for this possibility. Which shows that the league has indeed thought things through carefully, and that the league has plans that won’t be disclosed until the league implements them.