It took five weeks, but the NFL has finally been forced to throw part of its regular season schedule out the window. Although the league made a few minor schedule modifications last week, the outbreak of coronavirus in Tennessee along with a few other positive tests around the NFL forced the league to totally revamp its schedule on Sunday.
The NFL made a major adjustment to the schedule that had a direct impact on 10 teams over six different weeks. If you combine with the league’s decision to postpone the Steelers-Titans game last week, that means a total of 11 teams have been impacted by the changes.
Unfortunately for some teams, the schedule changes weren’t exactly created equally. Some teams will actually benefit from the changes while others will likely be writing a complaint letter to the NFL after the season is over. Of course, no one will complain publicly and that’s because every team knows that the league will do whatever it takes to make sure the entire schedule gets played this year.
So who were the biggest winners and losers of the schedule changes? Let’s find out.
Not only are the Bills a winner here, but you could argue that they were actually the biggest benefactor when it comes to the revamped schedule. For one, they now get to play the Titans on a Tuesday. The advantage there is two-fold: Not only do they get two extra days of rest compared to a normal week, but they also get to play a Titans team that will only have had one full practice before this game is played. The Titans haven’t held a full-team practice since a walk-through on Sept. 26 and they likely won’t get to hold their next practice until Oct. 12, just one day before the game.
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The Bills also get an advantage in Week 6 because they get to play the Chiefs on a Monday. Sure, having a Monday game the week after playing in a Tuesday game doesn’t sound like an advantage, but it is for Buffalo. If the schedule had never changed, the Bills would have had to play the Chiefs on a Thursday and would have only gotten three full days of rest between their Week 5 game and Week 6 game. Now that the schedule has been revamped, the Bills will get FIVE full days of rest between the Titans game and the Chiefs game. Of course, the downside here is that the Bills will lose out on rest heading into Week 7, but they play the Jets that week, so it’s probably not going to be an issue.
Kansas City Chiefs
Most teams in the NFL hate playing on Thursday and thanks to the revamped schedule, the Chiefs no longer have to do that this year. The downside of a Thursday game is that you only get three full days of rest before playing. With their Week 6 game against the Bills now on Monday, the Chiefs will be getting more than DOUBLE the amount of rest as they get seven full days between their Week 5 game and their Week 6 game.
The Chargers probably aren’t too upset with all the scheduling changes and that’s because they now have a Week 6 bye. The reason that’s a big deal is because the Chargers are playing a Monday night road game against the Saints in Week 5. Instead of flying home from New Orleans and being forced to play on short rest in Week 6, the Chargers now get a bye. Under the old schedule, the Chargers had a Week 10 bye with a game in Week 6 (vs. Jets), but now they’ll be able to take it easy after their game in New Orleans.
After playing the 49ers in Week 5, the Dolphins were going to hit the road to Denver in Week 6, but thanks to all the changes, that will no longer be happening. Under the new schedule, the Dolphins will now get to stay three straight weeks in Miami following their game against the 49ers. In Week 6, the Dolphins will host the Jets, which will be followed by a Week 7 bye and then a Week 8 home game against the Rams. That means the Dolphins won’t have to leave South Florida between Oct. 12 and Nov. 7.
These two teams are lumped together because they basically lost their bye week. In a normal season, NFL players generally get at least four days off during their bye week, but that won’t be happening for either the Broncos or Patriots. Both teams practiced all week before finding out on Sunday morning that they wouldn’t be playing in Week 5. Multiple players on both teams, including Melvin Gordon, made it clear that they weren’t happy with the decision.
The schedule change is a total nightmare for the Broncos, who now have to face the Patriots (Week 6) and Chiefs (Week 7) in consecutive weeks.
Like the Patriots and Broncos, the Steelers also got stuck with a bye week that they didn’t get to take advantage of. However, they’re not lumped in with those two teams because there’s another part of the schedule change that’s even worse for Pittsburgh. Now that the Titans game is being played in Week 7, the Steelers have to play three straight games on the road. Not only that, but none of those games will be an easy win as Pittsburgh will have to travel to Tennessee, Baltimore and Dallas. Playing three straight road games is one of the toughest things an NFL team is asked to do and playing three good teams makes it even more difficult.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like the Ravens were really impacted by the NFL’s schedule changes. The only thing that happened is that their Week 8 bye was moved to Week 7. The problem with that is that it means Baltimore will now have to play five straight games against playoff contenders with no break. Starting after their new Week 7 bye, the Ravens schedule will look like this: Steelers, at Colts, Patriots, Titans, at Steelers. Getting a bye between the first Steelers game and the Colts game would have been nice, but Baltimore won’t be getting that.
New York Jets
The Jets have been so bad this year that they probably don’t care about the changes, but the one thing they probably won’t like about the new schedule is that they now have to fly across the country three times in five weeks. On the old schedule, the Jets had a Week 11 bye, but now, they’ll be flying to Los Angeles to play the Chargers that week. After that, they have to fly to Seattle in Week 14 and then back to L.A. to play the Rams in Week 15, which is a lot of travel in just five weeks. I’m starting to think the Jets might be destined to land the No. 1 overall pick.
Teams that probably won’t care about the changes
The Jaguars probably don’t care about these changes and that’s because the NFL just flip-flopped two of their games. Under the old schedule, the Jags had a bye in Week 7 followed by a Week 8 game against the Chargers. Now, they’ll play the Chargers in Week 7 and have the bye in Week 8.
To be determined
Since the NFL’s COVID-19 outbreak started in Tennessee, you might think they’re an automatic loser here, but that’s not that case. At least not yet.
From a scheduling standpoint, the changes that the NFL made aren’t that bad for Tennessee. Sure, they get a Week 4 bye, but now they have five of their next six games at home, which means they’ll only be leaving Nashville once between Sept. 28 and Nov. 21.
The reason the Titans are listed as a loser though is because they haven’t been able to hold an official practice in nearly two weeks. By the time Tennessee plays Buffalo on Tuesday, the Titans will likely only have held one real practice in 15 days. Although it’s hard to prepare for an NFL game when you can’t practice, this could end up working out for the Titans because it’s a chance for them to get fresh. NFL teams never get this much time off during the season and the Titans are likely going to need it since they’re going to have to play for 13 straight weeks due to their early bye.
Of course, the Titans are going to have to get this outbreak under control before they can play 13 straight weeks. If they can’t do that, who knows, they might not play another game this season.