Postponing Ravens vs Steelers hurts Cleveland Browns playoff chances
The NFL’s postponement of the scheduled game between the Ravens and Steelers from Thanksgiving to Sunday affects the Cleveland Browns playoff chances, while also helping the Ravens prepare for a must-win game. ESPN’s Dan Graziano tweeted that seven players have tested positive and that the league wants to carry out contact tracing and additional testing.
Hence the game was postponed till Sunday. Noah Strackbein of Sports Illustrated says that10 positive tests were received.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley and Brooke Pryor reported that a Ravens staff member was disciplined for unspecified behavior which presumably may have contributed to the spread of the virus.
This decision will cost the NFL millions of dollars of TV revenue and disappoint football fans across the country who are now stuck with the likes of Dallas versus Washington or Detroit versus Houston. Well, it is NFL football at least.
This is a must-win for the Ravens who are currently 6-4. Their chances to make the playoffs go up if they beat Pittsburgh and then beat Cleveland later on, and hope that the Steelers beat Cleveland in the season finale again. In that case, the two teams could easily end up tied at the end of the season, but the Ravens would own the head-to-head tiebreaker as well as the better division record.
Conversely, if the Steelers knock off the Ravens, Baltimore would be 6-5. They would not be completely knocked out of the playoffs, but they would be in serious trouble.
It makes you wonder why the NFL allowed practice squads to go up to sixteen players if 10 positive tests would shut down a game. What are the practice squads for, if they cannot play football? Meanwhile, San Francisco is planning to play this week with nine players having tested positive according to Kyle Madson of Ninerswire. Apparently, San Francisco’s practice squad can play football even if Baltimore’s cannot.
What’s the difference? Good question. Is there a double standard because the Niners are not fighting for a playoff spot and the Ravens have a must-win game in front of them?
The Thanksgiving game is a big advantage for the home team because the visitor loses practice time to travel on an already short week. By moving the game to Sunday, the Steelers lose some of that extra home-field advantage. Plus it may give some players time to get off the Covid-19 list altogether. The Steelers hope to gain the playoff bye. This season, there is only one bye from each conference. So it does matter if they beat Baltimore, though it is not necessarily a must-win game for Pittsburgh. They wouldn’t mind having the extra home field advantage versus Baltimore and then extra preparation time for their next game, however. That’s gone now.
Normally, Browns fans would be in favor of the NFL screwing the Steelers in any way possible, but in this case, Baltimore seems to be the beneficiary of the call. This writer cannot claim to know the ins and outs about when to postpone games due to Covid, but it is very disappointing at least, and not obvious to the casual fan why this game has to be postponed and others do not have to be, especially in view of the sixteen player practice squads for all NFL teams.
Good grief, back in the day, the whole team was 16 players, and the top 11 players played offense and defense and special teams. Why have practice squads if they cannot play NFL football? What are they practicing for? Tiddlywinks? Let them play.
Here’s hoping that the Steelers pound the stuffing out of the stupid birds.