The Ravens are in a particularly difficult spot heading into a Tuesday night showdown with the Steelers.
At 6-4, they're in need of a win on the road against an undefeated arch-rival to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in the AFC. All the while, they're down several key players who've tested positive for COVID-19 over the last week. Lamar Jackson, Matthew Judon, J.K. Dobbins, Mark Ingram and Willie Snead are just a few examples of over 20 players on the COVID-19 reserve list after Sunday's games.
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the game gets postponed until January, especially considering how the Broncos were forced to play a game without an NFL quarterback. Either way, the team is reportedly fine with whatever the league chooses to do.
"I’ve been told the Ravens are okay with taking their medicine," Peter King wrote in his Football Morning in America column. "They’d prefer, of course, to switch the game to Jan. 10, but also realize they don’t have much of a leg to stand on, because reportedly it’s one of the coaches in the strength-and-conditioning area who may have violated COVID protocols with mask-wearing in the building and another protocol violation or two. They’re owning the problem."
The Ravens ended up disciplining a member of their strength and conditioning staff on Wednesday, who reportedly failed to report symptoms and didn't consistently wear a mask or tracking device.
If the game ultimately goes down on Tuesday, it will continue the trend of NFL teams making do with what they have based on their success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within their locker rooms. The NFL has made it through 12 weeks of football without having to postpone a game to January - though it has made for some questionable football, like Sunday's Broncos' game.
“I’m absolutely amazed that we’ve done as well as we have,” Bill Polian, an adviser to Roger Goodell told King. “The incredible adaptability that [league officials] have shown, and the clubs of course have cooperated tremendously. Who would ever think that you’d have virtual meetings? It’s just beyond anything we’ve had to do before. The fact that it’s gone as well as it has is incredible to me.
“So it’s up to each club to make sure that they have enough players to cover any kind of occurrence that would take place," he said. "In this particular case, they [the Broncos] did have four quarterbacks, but if you’ll remember that [Bucs coach] Bruce Ariens at the very beginning of training camp talked about quarantining one quarterback, keeping him out of the line of fire, so that he’s available in case this very thing should happen. Denver did not do that.”
The Ravens are currently the eighth-seed in the AFC playoff picture. If they manage to beat the Steelers as short-staffed as they are, it'll move them into a tie for sixth with Miami and Indianapolis. A loss would put them in a tie with the Raiders for eighth.