The Steelers-Titans Week 4 game scheduled for Sunday will not be played Monday or Tuesday. The NFL announced on Thursday morning that the matchup between the two current 3-0 AFC teams will be played at a later date because of concerns over Tennessee’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The NFL was considering playing the game Monday early evening ahead of the Falcons-Packers game. Tuesday would have been the latest extension for Pittsburgh traveling to Nashville in Week 4.
Instead, erring on the side of caution and safety, the NFL is simply pushing the Steelers-Titans to later in the season. Unfortunately, the teams don’t have the same bye in the middle of the 2020 season. The Titans have an open date in Week 7, but the Steelers are off only in Week 8.
But with the postponement, consider both the Titans and Steelers having an undesired unofficial bye in Week 4, when no teams were scheduled to be off. Because most teams prefer to have a bye right around the midway point, the Titans’ facility shutdown is a disadvantage to both teams in that sense.
The NFL, however, can set up the makeup date without needing to push the regular season beyond Week 17, which already finishes late on Jan. 3, 2021. That’s because the AFC North archrival Ravens are scheduled for the same Week 8 bye as the Steelers.
Why is that important? Before that bye, Baltimore was scheduled to host Pittsburgh in Week 7, or Tennessee’s bye week.
That would strongly suggest that the Steelers-Ravens can be moved to Week 8, with the Steelers traveling to the Titans in Week 7. There’s little disruption there for the Ravens and it might actually be nice for them to have an earlier bye in Week 7, giving them an extra week of rest and preparation before a critical game in the AFC North.
The NFL schedule is complicated with millions of permutations. The chances of the Steelers and Titans having the same bye were slim to none. But the league is still very fortunate, by another chance, given when Lamar Jackson’s Ravens and Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers were set to play the first of their two games.
The Steelers and Titans won’t get their undefeated matchup now, and both teams are bound to have at least one loss when they do play, presumably in Week 7. They should be just glad, in a year of a pandemic, they will still get play each other without overextending themselves in 2020.
Should this happen to another team that affects another game, the NFL’s isn’t likely to be as lucky.
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