American sports

NFL kicked off 2020 season amid COVID-19. How will the pandemic affect it?

Week one of the 2020 NFL season in the books. How has COVID-19 affected the league and what can we expect the rest of the way? Patryk Mazurek, STATSCORE‘s Data Manager and NFL expert, provides his analysis.

COVID-19 makes no exceptions. NFL has been affected in the same way as other major leagues in America. Restrictions needed to be imposed and now, thanks to many healthcare workers, we can watch our beloved league.

How will COVID-19 impact NFL?

Firstly, let’s look at some numbers. From August 30 to September 5 almost 45,000 players and team personnel had been tested for COVID-19. Of the 44,510 tests administered to a total of 8,349 players and team personnel, one player was confirmed to test positive for COVID-19. As you can see safety comes first!
It’s a pity that no fans are allowed to most of the stadiums, but nobody expected it to be different.

Aaron Rodgers (quarterback of the Green Bay Packers) has recently said on the Pat Mcafee Show that games this year feel more like practices. It’s very quiet out there on the field. All these factors give less advantage for home teams than they would in normal circumstances.

Also, the lack of pre-season games made things harder for first-year coaches and players adapting to new systems. One thing is for sure though. We, the fans are here, chanting for our teams in front of our TVs, smartphones or whatever we watch football on and we are not going anywhere!

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What can we expect in the future?

A lot of surprises. Great teams like Baltimore Ravens or the reigning champions Kansas City Chiefs will stay great. Nothing’s changed for them. The same coach, system and quarterback are a recipe for success.

Teams like Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Indianapolis Colts on the other hand will struggle. On paper, they looked like serious contenders. However, both new quarterbacks playing for these teams lost in Week 1.

Brady’s loss to the Saints wasn’t a big surprise, since New Orleans are one of the favourites to win the Super Bowl this season, but nobody predicted Phillip Rivers’ loss to the Jaguars. Colts were the clear favourites. We will see if adjustments for those teams will take 1 game, 2 games, or half a season.

Ready for Week 2 of NFL season?

This week’s most interesting matchup, in my opinion, is Thursday night clash between division rivals – the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Baker Mayfield, the Browns’ quarterback, is arguably under the greatest pressure of all players in the league this season. Former 1st overall draft pick is surrounded with great talent on the offence, but he has underachieved lately. After winning rookie of the year in 2018 he fell into a sophomore slump in 2019. This season is his last chance to prove he is the franchise quarterback that the team is desperately seeking. Missing the playoffs might cut his career short. After nearly 18 years of post-season drought, the Browns are in a must-win-now mode.

Mayfield’s task won’t be easy tonight as the Bengals looked promising in their first match. Joe Burrow – this year’s 1st overall draft pick showed signs that rookie quarterback has what it takes to be great in the NFL. The offence lead by him showed promise, especially on the last drive of the game. Down by 3 points, with a little over 3 minutes on the clock and no timeouts remaining, the Bengals marched the field gaining 84 total yards in 14 plays. Burrow even threw what could have been a game-winning touchdown with 8 seconds left on the clock, but the play was overturned. A.J. Green committed an offensive pass interference negating the points. Bengals decided to try to kick a game-tying field goal, but Randy Bullock missed it. It’s also worth noting that their defence conceded only 19 points.

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I expect a hard-fought game tonight. Browns to be successful have to depend on their ground game. The duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will certainly help them achieve that.

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