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Odds Say the NFL Will Not Need a Week 18 of the 2020 Regular Season

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III warming up
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III (3) warms up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
  • Odds have been set at -135 that the NFL will not add a Week 18 to the schedule
  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is confident it can play all regular-season games in the normal 17-week timeframe
  • The Steelers-Ravens game was postponed three times before finally being played Wednesday afternoon.

Odds have been set on whether the NFL will add a Week 18 to its regular-season schedule.

Under ordinary circumstances, each NFL team plays a 16-game schedule within the framework of 17 weeks. The league would prefer not to deviate from that schedule so it can get the playoffs started on time.

However, there has been talk of extending the schedule during this pandemic-altered season to allow for postponements related to COVID-19 and additional time to make those games up.

Odds There Will Be a Week 18 of 2020 NFL Season

Prop Odds
Yes +105
No -135

Odds as of Dec. 2.

Ravens-Steelers Cautionary Tale

Wednesday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers is an example of how difficult it is becoming for the NFL to play all games on schedule.

The AFC North rivals were originally supposed to meet last Thursday night in a Thanksgiving special. However, a rash of positive COVID-19 tests among the Ravens forced the league to reschedule the game for Sunday afternoon.

When Baltimore continued to have issues, the game was pushed back until Tuesday night then eventually to a Wednesday matinee timeslot.

The game had a start time of 3:40 p.m. so it would not conflict with NBC airing a Christmas special from Rockefeller Center in New York later in the evening.

It was also the first NFL game played on a Wednesday since the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants opened the 2012 season. That game was originally scheduled for Thursday night but was pushed back so NBC could air President Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Chain Reaction

The continuous moving of the Ravens-Steelers game has created a chain reaction of scheduling changes.

The Ravens were originally scheduled to host the Cowboys on Thursday night. The NFL certainly would not force a team play on consecutive days, so it pushed back the Baltimore-Dallas until next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Steelers’ game with the Washington Redskins scheduled for Sunday has been moved to Monday with a late afternoon start.

This not the first time the Steelers have had their schedule changed by COVID-19, though their roster has been pretty much been unaffected by the virus until recent days.

The Steelers were originally supposed to visit Tennessee in Week 4. However, the game was pushed back three weeks – and Pittsburgh lost its bye week – because the Titans had an outbreak.

No Forfeits … Yet

The NFL has threatened to force teams to forfeit games if they break COVID-19 protocols and those actions affect the schedule.

So far, the league has not followed through on that threat. The NFL allowed the Broncos and New Orleans Saints to play last week even though Denver was without all four quarterbacks because of a protocol breach.

Practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton played quarterback. Predictably, the Broncos were routed 31-3 as Hinton completed just one of nine passes for 13 yards with two interceptions.

That the NFL would allow such a non-competitive game to go on as scheduled is a strong indication that they want the regular season to end with Week 17. The possibility of forfeits only strengths that ideas.

Easy Fix

Adding an extra week to the schedule can be done rather seamlessly.

All the NFL needs to do is eliminate the off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, add an extra weekend of games from Jan. 7-10 and push the start of the playoffs back to Jan. 16.

Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that Commissioner Roger Goodell is not in favor of that plan. Thus, the only way to bet this prop is “no” at -135.

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