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Odds Now Say 2020 NFL Season Won’t Start on Time

David Golokhov

by David Golokhov in NFL Football

Apr 3, 2020 · 11:54 AM PDT

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Will the coronavirus force the delay of the start of the 2020 NFL season?
  • The 2020 NFL season is slated to kick of on September 10th, 2020
  • The United States is currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in waves
  • Based on China and Italy’s data, the US should be through the worst of it in a month or two, if they social distance and can avoid reinfections

The year 2020 has been a disaster for professional sports as many of the biggest events on the calendar have already been canceled while the major leagues have all been postponed.

Although the NFL is still months away from action, there is growing concern that the season won’t start on time. The betting odds actually favor ‘No’, but is that the right bet?

Odds on When 2020 NFL Season Will Start

Date Odds
On or Before Sept. 13th +185
After Sept. 13th -275

Odds taken Mar. 31.

Where Are We With The Coronavirus?

One of the biggest challenges with the COVID-19 outbreak is that we don’t really know where we are. In terms of North America and the United States, the nation’s top coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently stated that we’re not even at halftime. There is good news and bad news in there.

On one hand, even if we’re approaching halftime, that means we’re probably getting back to normal in about June. If we’re at halftime, we might be getting back to business before then. If we’re basing things off of China, which is ahead of North America in the COVID-19 crisis, its lockdown took six weeks to clear.

If that’s in fact the case, the United States should be back to business in July or even August in the worst-case scenario. If that’s true, then we should be able to start the 2020 NFL season on time.

10 States Are Not In A Lockdown

The biggest challenge facing the United States and the NFL season right now is that the country is not in a full-on lockdown. As of Friday morning, there are 10 states that are still not embracing a full quarantine, which is a serious problem. That means that we could be facing months of challenges as some states recover while others just ramp up.

For example, while New York was just starting to be engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida spring breakers were out on the beach. That means that while New York is the current epicenter, the virus could sweep through Florida, Louisiana and Texas – which is just now starting to lockdown the state – over the coming weeks and months.

How exactly can we get back to NFL games if, say, states like New York and New Jersey are cleared for action but Florida or Louisiana are still in the throes of their pandemic? We’re going to have political battles too where President Donald Trump and the owners of the NFL want to get back to action but mayors and governors won’t allow it.

We could be really looking at some ugly battles that will surely delay the start of the season – if that’s where we’re headed.

Can We Get Reinfected?

One other risk to keep in mind is what happens if we end quarantine too soon? We’ve already seen in China – who is ahead of the United States in this cycle – quarantine a new region this past week as they’re worried about reinfection. In Singapore, they’ve now moved into lockdown after doing such a good job with the virus the first time around.

As for Canada, which is close by to the United States, an ominous report on Monday suggested that if Canada doesn’t suppress the coronavirus now – through the measures they are taking – dealing with it in the winter is going to be significantly more challenging.

China, South Korea and Italy are ahead of North America in this process, so we’ll get an idea of what their dealing with in the coming months to get a vision of what’s coming up for us.

What’s The Best Bet?

At this point, I’d actually bet on the NFL season starting on time. In my view, the rhetoric of the media and the governments of Canada and the United States has taken a significant turn recently. Originally, the U.S. was nonchalant about the virus, while Canada was serious about the virus but didn’t curtail travel until much later.

Now both countries appear to be taking a much more serious tone and I think the projections we’re hearing now are worst-case scenarios. In Canada, they’ve talked about a 12-week lockdown and in the United States, they’ve talked about as many as 240,000 deaths. In my view, these are worst-case numbers because, if it’s anything less, they look like winners politically.

If we step back and look at the data we have, we can see that it took Italy about a month to get through the worst of it and China was just about the same. China took serious measures while Italy mostly flouted the early quarantines – as many Americans have.

The odds have continued to shift towards not starting on time as the odds were at +325 on March 20th and then shifted to -105 on March 31st. However, it feels like we’ve swung from being to gentle with estimates to being too harsh. Keep in mind we might also find a cure, a vaccine, or other solutions.

My estimation is the United States will be through the worst of it in about two months and many parts of the country will be inching back to business by then. That puts us in June or even July at the latest, which should give the NFL ample time to start. That’s my estimation and keep in mind that assumes reinfections aren’t a headwind.

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