As of Sunday night, the NFL postseason will shrink to four teams, with three games to play. The NFL is determined to have those final games not impacted by COVID-19.
Per a league source, the NFL will send monitors to each of the final four teams to ensure full compliance with COVID-19 protocols as the conference championship games and, after that, the Super Bowl approach.
Of course, this will apply only to compliance in and around the team. It will be impossible to monitor the movements and behavior of players, coaches, and essential staff away from the facility or stadium. As the spread of the virus throughout most communities continues unabated, the risk of NFL employees catching it away from work continues to climb.
Still, the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to resist a bubble for the final four (or final two) teams. Voluntarily bubbles remain possible, but there seems to be little momentum toward all players, coaches, and essential staff choosing to stay in a hotel.
As the NFL gets closer and closer to the finish line of the first (and hopefully only) season of pro football in a pandemic, the NFL is understandably nervous. This risk of an outbreak that would impact a team’s ability to perform at its highest level or upend the postseason altogether continues to linger.