Can the NFL Start on Time?

NFL’s 2020

September 10th – Day of Reckoning

The Houston Texans visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on the second Thursday in September is slated as the opening game of the NFL’s 2020 season. Thus far, the commissioner, Roger Goodell, has not backed off of that appointed date and all things considered, the NFL has dodged the global pandemic better than any other North American sports league. Timing is everything and fortunately for the NFL COVID-19 struck in January but its venom wasn’t felt until a month later. By that time the Super Bowl had already been played and the NFL had gone dark while all the others were in full swing, with Major League Baseball on deck.

“As a league, and in partnership with the players’ association, we will continue to prepare and to adjust where necessary,” commissioner Roger Goodell said during a recent media teleconference. “I think this offseason has looked a lot different than it has in the past. We are proud that our key activities, such as free agency, the league year, the offseason programs, and of course the draft, demonstrated that we can operate in new and innovative ways, so we are prepared for the 2020 season.”

But the league just doesn’t begin playing on September 10th without the requisite voluntary OTA’s, training camps, and exhibition season before the games begin for real. As of this point, the league is taking a clinical, cautious approach to each timeline that has been established.

“We’ve got to get this right,” said Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations. “We’re coming out of phase 1, going into phase 2, and we have to assure the general public and our players that our protocol and procedures [work]. We can’t miss. We just can’t fail. So rather than saying, ‘Yes, we’re going to do this,’ we have time. We have to be right. We are really taking a responsible approach on a daily basis. It’s changing daily.”

Of course, the health, safety, and welfare of the players and personnel are of paramount importance to the league. Testing and wellness measures will need to be held in strict compliance by all 32 NFL teams but once the players leave their respective training facilities is when complications can arise. Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack, the treasurer of the NFLPA, commented on precisely that topic, “I think it comes down to how can you control when people go home. What they do, what the people at their home are doing. It’s just the whole spiderweb effect of contamination that’s hard to wrap your head around and kind of figure out. I guess the fear of the unknown, to me, concerns me.”

Bookies Have Faith

If you follow the money then we can assume that the offshore and land-based books are bullish on a season happening, at least at some point this year, because NFL lines are easy to come by and there isn’t a bookmaker on earth that isn’t putting up NFL season team win totals, division odds, conference odds, and of course, Super Bowl odds.

As of this writing the odds to win Super Bowl LV are as follows [Source: SBR]:

Baltimore Ravens +600

Kansas City Chiefs +625

San Francisco 49ers +900

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1200

New Orleans Saints +1200

Dallas Cowboys +1400

Seattle Seahawks +1700

Philadelphia Eagles +2000

Indianapolis Colts +2200

Pittsburgh Steelers +2300

New England Patriots +2500

Green Bay Packers +2500

Buffalo Bills +2500

Tennessee Titans +3000

Los Angeles Chargers +3500

Minnesota Vikings +3500

Cleveland Browns +3500

Las Vegas Raiders +3750

Los Angeles Rams +4000

Houston Texans +4000

Chicago Bears +4000

Arizona Cardinals +4000

Atlanta Falcons +4000

Denver Broncos +5500

New York Giants +9000

New York Jets  +9000

Miami Dolphins +10000

Detroit Lions +10000

Carolina Panthers +12500

Cincinnati Bengals +15000

Washington Redskins  +15000

Jacksonville Jaguars +22500

Soon enough we will begin getting hints as to which way the wind is blowing in terms of the NFL meeting its opening night target date. If one series of events, like training camps, for example, gets pushed back then that will affect the exhibition season which in turn would affect the regular season. Once the dominoes fall, they are impossible to stop. However, if the NFL’s seamless handling of their first-ever virtual NFL Draft back in April is any indication, I’d say it’s a pretty good bet that the Texans and Chiefs throw down on time and as scheduled – Thursday, September 10th. We’ll be watching…or at least we hope.

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