This was a tough call on my picture of the week.
Russell Wilson torched the Cowboys secondary for his second five touchdown performance of the season. One of those passes went to DK Metcalf while Tyler Lockett caught three. Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes things in the highly anticipated Monday night game between the Ravens and Chiefs where only one team bothered to show up.
I went with Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard who caught 6 Aaron Rodgers passes on 8 targets for 146 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s 37-30 win at New Orleans on Sunday night. His 72-yard catch and run early in the third quarter set up an Aaron Jones touchdown four plays later that was part of a high scoring contest at the Superdome.
Heading into Week 4, there is concern that there might be a change to the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nine members of the Tennessee Titans – four players and five members of the personnel team – tested positive for the disease. For now, their upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been moved to Monday, possibly Tuesday at the latest, in order to allow for more testing.
If this game cannot be played as part of the Week 4 slate, it would have to be made up. The game would have to happen during one of the two team’s original bye weeks, the Steelers are off in Week 8 while the Titans are off in Week 7. Another team might have to be involved in order to pull off this logistical puzzle.
As I look at the entire schedule, if the worst possible scenario occurs to where this game cannot be played, the thing to do is: 1) put both Pittsburgh and Tennessee on the bye this week, 2) reschedule the game for Week 7 when the Titans have their bye week and put the Ravens off that week, and 3) push the Steelers at Ravens game in Week 8 to Week 9 when both teams are scheduled off.
I am sure there are other scenarios that the NFL is considering but this one looks like the easiest solution.
Going forward, the NFL needs to find a way to stress the importance of maintaining the bubble despite that the physical nature of the sport as well as how much time is off between games makes it difficult to do so. The NBA and NHL should receive praise on how they were able to complete their respective playoffs and end up with their championship rounds being played. Despite some difficulties at the start of the season, MLB may be able to pull of their truncated 60-game season and expanded playoffs to have a World Series end the season.
For now, the NFL has resorted to fining coaches and staff for not wearing masks on the sideline. The next step might have to be suspension for a certain number of games and forfeiture of draft picks.
If the league office really wanted to impose creative punishments, they would not allow teams to hold special events such as Super Bowls, the draft, or playing in an international game over the next couple of seasons. I would consider reducing the number of games a team can appear in the most visible windows – primetime and late Sunday doubleheader - and take them out of flex considerations during that time period. Probably the one thing that would get the attention of teams would be not allowing fans to attend games until they correct the situation.
Another solution might have to be consider suspending Thursday night games until later in the season and reallocate them into the Sunday bloc of games. While the NFL is doing daily tests of their teams, three days between Sunday and Thursday is just not enough time to catch positive cases. I fear that a player may test negative in the period between a Sunday and Thursday game, then suddenly test positive after playing in a Thursday game and not only causing an outbreak among their team but also their previous opponent thus putting more of the season into jeopardy.
Now the picks
Kickoff times are Mountain Time
Sunday afternoon games airing in Denver are noted by (DEN)
Picks are in BOLD
THURSDAY NIGHT, FOX/NFL 6:20 PM
Jets at Broncos
Chargers at Buccaneers (DEN)
Jaguars at Bengals
Ravens at Football Team
Steelers at Titans
Browns at Cowboys (DEN)
Cardinals at Panthers
Saints at Lions
Seahawks at Dolphins
Texans at Vikings
Bills at Raiders (DEN)
Colts at Bears
Giants at Rams
SUNDAY NIGHT, NBC 6:20PM
Eagles at 49ers
Patriots at Chiefs CBS 5PM
Falcons at Packers ESPN 8:50PM
Steelers at Titans