Playing football in the midst of a pandemic has come with its share of challenges. But to this point, the NFL has been lucky enough not to have lost any games on the schedule. We’ve seen postponements and rescheduled contests, but nothing that has forced a full-on cancelation.
Even still … the possibility of a game cancelation exists. And with bye weeks going off the board, the flexibility for rescheduling is becoming more difficult to find. So with that in mind, the NFL put a playoff contingency plan to vote on Tuesday:
Key language: “If the 256-game regular season is played, or if games that are unable to be played do not otherwise affect eligibility or seeding for the postseason,” the normal playoff format stays in effect.
Week 9 ends tonight, so over halfway home. No games lost so far.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 9, 2020
Clearly, the league’s goal is to play its full regular season as scheduled. But because 2020 is what it is, we should know better than to expect anything to happen on schedule. Hence, the importance of creating a contingency plan if necessary.
What’s most important in this plan is that it would increase the already expanded postseason field from 14 to 16 teams. And that would only happen if a game that has playoff implications ends up getting the hook. I’m sure there are some around the league that feel it’s a long shot. But again, it’s important not to assume anything will go as planned.
Also worth noting is that, if the contingency plan were to get approved, and the league needed to cancel a game, the Chicago Bears would be the No. 8 seed. Yep, that’s right. Chicago’s football team would slide in as the last squad. And as things stand, it would set up a rematch against the No. 1 seed Saints. Obviously, we’re a ways away from crossing that bridge. But that the possibility exists could be something that changes how those at the top of franchise’s hierarchy views how things are going.
In any case, there’s plenty of work to do between now and then. And who knows — maybe the Bears can play their way into one of the top seven seeds that guarantees them a spot in a postseason picture that doesn’t need additional expansion.