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Notes: What if a Lions opponent had an outbreak?

Only two weeks have clean rescheduling solutions.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After adding two wide receivers to the COVID/Reserve list on Friday and one more player showing a positive result on Saturday, the Tennessee Titans had 18 positives (of which 9 were players) entering the weekend. While an outbreak of the sort experienced by the Titans was always seen as a possibility, events moved very fast and put the league under a time crunch to figure out what to do:

Obviously, forcing the Titans to play with little to no preparation time permitted in their own facility and short multiple players who could not participate would wreck the competitiveness of the contest. Though observers have thought about the problem ahead of time and offered novel solutions, it turns out the league was able to finagle a fix for the Titans’ situation (at least for this week) within the existing structure of the schedule:

The league’s move to reschedule the jeopardized game was possible because the Steelers’ bye week was in Week 8 and the Titans’ bye week was in Week 7. Could the Lions switch around their schedule if they run into a situation like the Titans are facing? As the season goes on, there will be fewer such opportunities built into the existing bye week schedule to do that kind of shuffling (table accounts for the shift of the Titans’ bye week from 8 to 4):

Remaining Detroit Schedule

Week Opponent Opponent's Bye Week
Week Opponent Opponent's Bye Week
6 Jacksonville 7
7 Atlanta 10
8 Indianapolis 7
9 Minnesota 7
10 Washington 8
11 Carolina 13
12 Houston 8
13 Chicago 11
14 Green Bay 5
15 Tennessee 4
16 Tampa Bay 13
17 Minnesota 7

There are potential schedule fixes built into the following weeks:

  • Week 7 at Atlanta: If Detroit played Atlanta in their original bye week in Week 10, then moved the home game against Washington to Week 8, the displaced home game against Indianapolis could be pushed up to Week 7. Washington’s new bye week would then be Week 10 and Indianapolis’ bye week would be Week 8.
  • Week 11 at Carolina: Since Carolina’s scheduled bye week is in Week 13, Detroit could play Chicago instead in Week 11 and then switch to play Carolina in what would have been their original bye week. Chicago’s new bye week would be Week 13.
  • Alternately, Detroit could play Chicago in Week 11, then play Tampa Bay in Week 13, and move the Carolina game to Week 16. This is a bit more convoluted, but if there was a schedule conflict with other events using the stadiums involved (originally, the venues might have been available for someone else to book) this could work.

Other than those two weeks, though, the opponent’s bye week would have already passed by that point in the regular season. Without a future bye week to use as a buffer to move games around with, the league would have to consider pushing back the playoffs and insert a “make-up week” after Week 17 sometime between January 3 and January 9 (or whenever the Wild Card games would be delayed until).

At least one player did not like the schedule change used to patch up the COVID issue for the Titans, admittedly for a super legitimate reason:

In light of the current situation, the league extended daily COVID testing indefinitely and reminded teams once again to refrain from large group team activities away from the controlled environments of team facilities. Hopefully everyone stays safe and healthy, and this week has provided the league some good experience that can be applied to dealing with anything that comes up the rest of the season.

Edit: Oh boy, here we go.

Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • The greatest running back of all time wrote “The Things I’ll Never Forget” on The Players’ Tribune. All Lions fans should read it, even if they never got to see him play during his career.

  • Justin Rogers from the Detroit News wanted to know what it would take for the Lions to run the ball successfully. He got exactly the answer you were expecting from head coach Matt Patricia, but apparently was not enthused.

  • Doug Farrar is really, really good. Read what he writes.

  • Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager has a name for you to remember when the Lions take on the Saints this weekend:

  • From the “I don’t know what to do with this information” department: