NFL Adding 18th Week ‘In Play’ To Nobody’s Surprise, But Reserved As Last Resort

The NFL is trying hard to resist doing anything drastic beyond the scope of their 2020 regular season, a 17-week schedule featuring 32 teams playing 16-game campaigns with one off-week in between. To date, they have had to move two games to different weeks explicitly because one of those teams were dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak. Several other games were moved to other weeks in order to accommodate those moves.

But it is reaching dangerously close territory in which the NFL is going to run out of weeks for some teams. Anybody who needs to have a game moved to another week after they have already had their bye will have run out of real estate unless there is an 18th week added.

To nobody’s surprise, the NFL is open to the possibility of adding an extra week to the season, which would allow any teams who needed multiple games to be moved, or a game to be moved after their bye week, to play a full 16-game schedule.

In fact, they nearly did it yesterday. The league entertained the possibility of indefinitely postponing the game against the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos, under which circumstances it could have been postponed so far as to have come after either team’s schedule bye—which would mean it would have to come after the regular season, or not at all.

Michael Silver reports for that an 18th week is “a likely reality”, and even adds that “there could even bee a week 19 added”. The NFL still wants every team to play 16 games. The MLB nearly pulled that off despite numerous outbreaks.

The NFL has the advantage of not having had to postpone an in-progress season, so if they delay the postseason by a week or two, it really doesn’t matter all that much. The playoff dates are entirely flexible—in fact, aside from the Super Bowl, nobody even knows where those games will be played. And it was reported long ago that even the date of the Super Bowl could be moved.

None of this is terribly surprising, I would imagine. Anybody who has been paying attention to what has been going on for the past couple of weeks has probably already gathered that there’s a pretty good chance a team would have to play a game beyond the current regular season framework—and possibly even two.

In fact, if the Tennessee Titans have any new positive cases today, then it’s a virtual certainty that they will have to move Tuesday’s planned game to another week indefinitely. Because the Titans have already had their bye, well…obviously that would have to come later.

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