The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Even before there is another Covid case in other organizations, the NFL should proactively install a universal second bye week at the end of the season.
Explanation: The NFL is in the midst of a Covid outbreak with the Tennessee Titans, and it has forced them to reschedule their game against the Steelers, meaning they have to take their bye weeks now and play 13 straight games. There’s a fair chance more teams will lose their bye in this way, and may even be at risk of not playing 16 games.
The NFL should have amended the schedule a long time ago to prepare for this and to add in additional bye weeks. It’s not as though it’s not feasible. There are no postseason games scheduled because nobody knows who will be playing, when, or where. There is a Super Bowl date set but that has always been amenable to change, and has been moved before.
And they can still do this now. Things can still be changed. There’s no reason that they couldn’t add multiple bye weeks into the season. It’s not like it would be a major disruption to fan attendance. There are still many games in which fans will not be permitted, and at most there might be some 15,000-20,000 in attendance. The fairest thing to do, given the time they’ve had to prepare, is to provide buffers and cushions. The NFL’s schedule is the least amenable to postponement of games out of all the major sports leagues, so it’s only logical.
If you add another bye week to the end of the season, then you force number one seeds to have two weeks off. That’s too much time for rust to settle in and suddenly turns a reward into a punishment.
The worst-case scenario is that some teams finish the season having played fewer than 16 games. That’s really not a big deal. You simply decide things based on winning percentage. For tie-breakers, you use per-game averages if necessary. The NFL doesn’t want to lose regular season games, but delaying postseason games is not a good option either.
Beyond that, this is nothing more than an overreaction to one single incident that has affected one team. We should not work under the assumption that this is going to continue to happen multiple times, especially after teams have seen what it’s like. The MLB hasn’t had repeated lapses after initial struggles and they’ve made it to the postseason without a bubble.