Will Monday’s COVID-19 results send Ravens-Steelers to Week 18?
Tuesday night’s re-re-scheduled game between the Ravens and Steelers remains on. Will that be the case later today?
The NFL prevented the Ravens from conducting a Monday morning walk-through. It could still happen at 5:00 p.m. ET (per Albert Breer of SI.com).
That’s not a randomly-selected time. By then, the league and the Ravens will know whether any additional players have tested positive. Given the decision to delay practice until those results emerge, it’s safe to assume that further positives will likely block the planned practice.
So then the question becomes whether the league will pull the plug on the game?
Most assume that, if postponed again, Ravens-Steelers would become the first game of the long-expected 18th week of the regular season. The NFL has strongly resisted that possibility, given that sending one game to Week 18 removes the potential safety net for the rest of the season as to the two teams who are due to play in Week 18.
What happens if the Bills or Steelers have an issue next week and their Week 13 Sunday night game can’t be played? Does it simply get canceled, since the Steelers already have a game on the docket for Week 18? Or does the league eventually stage the “better” or “more impactful” game, picking between Ravens-Steelers and Steelers-Bills?
It’s a potential can of worms that shouldn’t be resolved simply be taking a first-in, first-out approach. Why should Ravens-Steelers take precedence over Steelers-Bills or Ravens-Browns, if either of those games can’t be played?
That’s surely one of the reasons why the league has had a “damn the torpedoes” approach to getting games played. The current problem, however, is that a torpedo may still be heading for the hull of Ravens at Steelers.
Per a league source, the Ravens are beginning to sense that the NFL has two camps. Science versus sport. Some are inclined to play it safe, and others are inclined to conclude that it’s safe to proceed.
Monday’s PCR test results for the Ravens loom over any such internal debate. If they’re clean, it surely will be game on (unless Tuesday morning’s samples yield positives by late Tuesday afternoon). If they’re not clean, Tuesday’s game could be postponed to Week 18 -- possibly with the caveat that, based on other developments over the next five weekends, the game may not be played at all.