2020 Offseason Questions: How Many Preseason Games Will Ultimately Be Played?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How many preseason games will actually be played in 2020?

Reports are that the NFL intends to shorten the preseason to two games, eliminating the first and fourth games and playing the two in the middle, though those two could require some rearrangement in location and opponent, if necessary.

The NFLPA, meanwhile, has reportedly made the argument that one or even zero preseason games should be played. Some player representatives have made comments indicating that we should expect to see fewer than two games played.

Their argument is that it makes little sense to hold exhibition games, thereby exposing two separately quarantined groups of individuals, for what is largely a meaningless event. They also argue that they would be better served preparing for the season with a ramp-up period rather than preparing for games.

Then there is the very real possibility that coronavirus conditions will force the league to cancel the preseason. They’ve already canceled the Hall of Fame game for that reason. There are no indications right now that conditions will be better—either significantly or at all—in the middle of August.

The league would gladly sacrifice the preseason as long as they can still get the regular season in. We still have the possibility that the season will have to be postponed, delayed, or shortened. If any of these occur, the preseason would be an easy sacrifice for the NFL.

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