Next week, we might have “Tuesday Night Football,” but no “Thursday Night Football.”
Welcome to the 2020 NFL season, which seems to be adjusted hour by hour. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots plan to play on Monday night, which isn’t that big of a shift for the league. But the news that the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills will play Tuesday, if there are no further positive COVID-19 tests on the Titans, will affect many people in and out of the game.
First of all, the Bills are slated to play the Kansas City Chiefs next Thursday night. If that Tuesday game happens, the Chiefs-Bills game will be on the move, too.
A Tuesday night game would be rare
The move of the Bills-Titans game to Tuesday is unusual. Since 1946, there has been only one NFL game on a Tuesday. A 2010 Minnesota Vikings-Philadelphia Eagles game was moved to Tuesday due to a blizzard. The game will start at 6 p.m. ET, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Of course, that’s if the game is played. The Titans have regularly had positive tests since the outbreak hit, and they decided to still hold informal workouts against NFL protocol. They’ll have to get to Tuesday without any more positive tests, and that is far from a lock.
A Tuesday night game between two very good teams would be fun, but the uncertainty over the game happening makes for some nervous moments. For instance, fantasy players with Derrick Henry or Josh Allen might not want to gamble that the Titans won’t have any more positive tests and the game gets canceled. The Bills will also have to decide whether they want to do what the New England Patriots did this Monday, and wait for the all clear before flying the day of the game.
There’s also a question of what the NFL will do if the Titans have positive tests and the game doesn’t play on Tuesday. Would the Titans take the first official forfeit in NFL history, or would the league get creative with scheduling yet again? The Titans used up their bye week when their Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs will be in a holding pattern, too.
What will happen with Bills-Chiefs?
The Chiefs have to prepare to play Thursday, in case the Bills-Titans game falls through. If the Bills and Titans play on Tuesday, that crucial AFC game will happen on Sunday. It could end up having big seeding implications down the line, given that both teams are 4-0.
In a feasible worst-case scenario, the Bills prepare for a 3-0 Titans team until Tuesday morning, the Titans have a positive test and the game gets called off, and the Bills have a little more than two days to shift focus to a Thursday game against Kansas City.
Television networks will be on standby, too. Fox and NFL Network had to be looking forward to a marquee matchup between the Bills and Chiefs in an exclusive Thursday night window, and it’s a big blow to lose that game to Sunday.
There’s a question of whether there will be a Thursday night game at all next week. If the Titans-Bills game is called off Monday or Tuesday, it’s not like the NFL could ask two teams to move up their preparation and play three days early.
The NFL is trying to play all 256 regular-season games, and in a perfect world, that’s what everyone wants. But shifting things to accommodate a Titans team that wasn’t following protocols is a headache for many people outside of Tennessee.
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