Under ordinary circumstances, the NFL would release its schedule for the upcoming season around mid-April. Last year, the schedule was released on April 17. We are on April 15, now. But the schedule is not expected to be revealed until a week or more into the next month, in May. Why?
Earlier this month, Peter King wrote that he believes the additional time is likely being used to construct alternative schedules, truncated to accommodate for the potential that the regular season is unable to start on time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
They could, for example, be determining out a 14- or even 12-game schedule would function if they were unable to play 16 games. While some have said that they felt they would likely be able to play 16 games, most of those comments have come several weeks back already, and since then, there has been more deference to the uncertainty.
It’s unfortunate that the global pandemic has to come up so much in our coverage over the past month, but that is simply a reflection of the reality of the world we’re living in, and the variables that that is thrusting upon the sporting world, with every major league currently on pause—yet somehow Vince McMahon got Florida’s governor to deem his WWE an essential business. But I digress.
So how exactly would this all work? Would the league come up with completely different schedules if only 14 or 12 games were to be played? Or would they make sure that they schedule the season in a certain way that, if the first two or four games could not be played, they could just lop off those weeks as though they were never there?
While we consider these possibilities, we also have to address the potential reality that there would not even be a preseason at all under these circumstances, and likely a very abbreviated training camp. All of this would have a very real impact on the quality of play on the field, especially in the early portions of the season, but given the situation, that may be unavoidable while still salvaging a season in a relatively timely fashion.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are projected to have one of the easier schedules this year, though we know how dramatically those things can change from year to year, as that is measured based on last years’ win-loss percentages. And we know that every year about five teams make the playoffs who missed it the year before.