Sports | October 5, 2020 11:13 am

NFL May Add 18th Week to Season as Contingency Plan

Adding Week 18 would give the NFL wiggle room in the case of more COVID-19 cases

NFL logo on the field during a game between the Patriots and Raiders. NFL players have a 73% vaccination rate.
Right now two NFL teams remain under 50% vaccinated
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following the coronavirus outbreak among the Tennessee Titans and the one-day postponement of Sunday’s Patriots/Chiefs game over a positive COVID-19 result on each team, the NFL is considering adding an extra week to its schedule in case more games have to be shifted during the regular season, according to The Washington Post.

Adding Week 18 to the regular season would give the NFL a little wiggle room in the event that more games have to be moved at the last minute due to positive COVID-19 tests. And, given what happened in Week 4, it seems entirely possible that may happen.

Adding an 18th week into the schedule would not require pushing back the Super Bowl if the bye week before the Super Bowl is eliminated. It would mean the playoffs would start a week later than currently scheduled.

It’s possible the Titans, who have had 18 members of their organization test positive for COVID-19 (including nine players), will force the league’s hand in adding the extra week as Tennessee may not be able to play in Week 5 against Buffalo after already missing a Week 4 matchup against Pittsburgh.

On Monday, the NFL is expected to “read everybody the riot act” during a conference call with owners, coaches, and general managers, according to ProFootballTalk.

During the call, “big penalties” for not following COVID-19 protocols are expected to be threatened.

The first three weeks of the NFL season were played without any disruptions to the schedule, but as Week 4 made clear, there’s no reason to expect for that to be the case moving forward.