Peter King examines increasing COVID-19 positives, postponed games in NFL

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So many tentacles to this story, from the science of contagion to the effect on TV, to the second Presidential debate, to the effect on the schedule, to the strange story of the sudden New England quarterback, to the hastily called league meeting today, to how Tennessee’s going to handle its current nightmare. And to what must be some unease on the part of the players in this game tonight, no matter how reassuring the league’s been about the health and safety of playing through a pandemic.

The schedule. Why rush the Patriots-Chiefs game to tonight and have the league override its rule about not traveling on the day of a game? Three reasons. The league didn’t want to saddle Kansas City with a Tuesday-Sunday-Thursday (at Buffalo) stretch of three games in 10 days. (With the third game butting ratings heads with the second Trump-Biden debate, if it happens.) KC would have been open to move the game to Friday, but FOX doesn’t pay $60 million per game to play a sexy game (KC-Buffalo) on a bad night for prime time, Friday. And it fits New England better too. The Patriots wouldn’t have wanted to get home at 4 a.m. Wednesday to prepare for a Sunday game with Denver, when the Broncos would have had nine days to prep after a Thursday game the previous week.

Kansas City certainly would have been okay with moving the Thursday-nighter to the FOX Sunday doubleheader window in Week 6. Two problems: No team wants to add an extra short-week Thursday-night game, and every team has one already. And two, the FOX doubleheader game that week is Aaron Rodgers at Tom Brady. End of discussion.

I’ll tell you why the NFL hopes it doesn’t have to add a Week 18 and 19. If I had a dime for everyone who’s emailed or tweeted me with the why-not-just-push-postponed-games-to-January idea, well, I’d have about $3.10. The short answer is it might happen. The smart answer is this: There’s no good reason to decide that until you have to. And the NFL wants to avoid it if at all possible—and not just because it would push the Super Bowl back a week or two. (In February, Tampa, the Super site, is open. Wide open.)

Let’s say you have five or six games to make up at the end of the season. Say three teams have to make up two games each, and the NFL adds a Week 18 (Jan. 10) and Week 19 (Jan. 17), to ensure each team plays a 16-game regular season. That could mean the top seeds in each conference would play their final regular-season games on Jan. 3, and their divisional playoff game on Jan. 30 or 31. How fair would it be for the team that earned the bye to sit for a month before playing a playoff game? To me, it’s far better for two or three teams to play 14 or 15 games than to put your highest-achieving teams at the disadvantage of sitting for a month, then playing its most important game of the year.

But the overriding point is there might be three or four games with little meaning left to play at the end of the year. You just don’t know what you’ll face as this season runs on, so decide when you have to.

Titans
Titans coach Mike Vrabel. (Getty Images)

What to do about Tennessee? It’s no sure thing the Titans will be able to mobilize forces and open their practice facility and get in the requisite work to play their Week 5 home game against Buffalo on Sunday at noon CT. With fullback Khari Blasingame becoming the ninth Titans player to test positive over six days, the work by the NFL and NFLPA to investigate the Titans outbreak becomes increasingly important. How did things blow up there so badly, and how soon will COVID subside there? “It’s the Marlins all over,” said one informed league source Sunday night. League and union officials are investigating whether—as Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Sunday—players or club employees violated rules on wearing tracking devices or reporting symptoms of COVID. No rules exist on what the discipline would be for violation leading to outbreaks. Could the Titans, if forced to miss one or two games, simply play a shorter season than other teams and have their playoff status determined by winning percentage versus full-season teams? Could they be made to forfeit a game or games if found to have been negligent? Unknown and undecided.

A bubble. It’s a good idea, of course, putting every team in a local hotel for the next three months for most or all of every week. A good idea, until you ask families about missing Thanksgiving and Christmas. It may come to this. If two or three more teams have Tennessee-like outbreaks, the league and union may push for it. Now? I think there’d be some but not overwhelming support. I also think some players—no idea how many—would opt out.

The science. One thing nags at me—and, I can tell you, at some of those involved in the game tonight: How can players be sure that the incubation period for the disease is over, especially after seeing players from the Titans test positive for COVID for six straight days? They can’t. After hearing that Newton tested positive on Friday, Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist, said Sunday that the average person exposed to Newton on Friday would test positive the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

“A test within one or two days of exposure is meaningless,” said Dr. Gounder, clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital.

NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills told me if a player tests positive on a Friday, the exposure likely came days earlier. “When are you infectious to others is a question the medical community is wrestling with,” Sills said.

Let’s say Newton got exposed to COVID on Tuesday or Wednesday and didn’t test positive till Friday. Those around him—close contacts are defined by the NFL as being within six feet of Newton for at least 15 minutes in a day—may have been exposed for two or three days, not just Friday. In that case, testing done on the close contacts may have been in day four and five Sunday and today. The fact that no one out of all Patriots players and coaches tested positive in the rapid tests Saturday or Sunday sets the New England case apart from the 20 cases found, according to the Tennessean, in Nashville over the past six days.

Brian HoyerHoyer, 35, has played six of his 12 NFL seasons with the Patriots in three separate stints, and recently decided to move his family lock, stock and barrel to New England. He loves it there, and he’ll make the family home in the area whenever he retires. He’s also played in Cleveland, Arizona, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis and San Francisco. Oddity of the week: Hoyer has played more seasons and games (23) in New England than anywhere, but he’s never started a game for the Patriots . . . and he’s started at least one game in every one of his six other stops.

Brian Hoyer
Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer. (Getty Images)

Imagine what Hoyer is thinking right now, cramming a starters’ game plan into his head after getting news, presumably, on Friday, that he’d be playing in this game—on the road, against the best team in football, against the defending Super Bowl champs, and against a 25-year-old phenom who’s already been the MVP and Super Bowl MVP. That’s some first starting assignment for the Patriots—oh, and with Bill Belichick examining your every throw—right there.

As for the game—what, there’s a football game tonight?—New England certainly has gone to school on KC’s narrow overtime win over the Chargers in Week 2. The Chargers limited Kansas City to nine possessions in four quarters, and won time-of-possession by 11 minutes. That’s the way you beat Mahomes—don’t give him many chances. To do that, you’ve got to run it well, and New England has, with 534 yards in three games, for a 5.1-yard average carry. Sony Michel is coming to life after a slow start, and Rex Burkhead has contributed 6.0 yards per touch. Hoyer’s smart. He’ll know to snap the ball late on the play clock, and he’ll know not to take contested chances downfield. But Kansas City embarrassed Baltimore on Monday night, and Andy Reid and Mahomes are such a perfect play-caller/play-executer duo, and the skill players are healthy. Not impossible, but this is a tough matchup for New England. For anyone right now, really.

Read more in Peter King’s Football Morning in America.

What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl: Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule, and more

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The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl will take place over the course of two days at Allegiant Stadium–home of the Las Vegas Raiders–in Paradise, Nevada. The excitement begins on Thursday, February 2 as NFL fan-favorites compete in a brand-new skills challenge featuring the following events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Lightning Round, Longest Drive, Precision Passion, and Best Catch.

Sunday, February 5 will feature the following: the Best Catch Finale, Gridiron Gauntlet, Kick Tack Toe, Move the Chains, and three seven-on-seven non-contact Flag football games between the league’s best players.

See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl as well as answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who are the coaches for the 2023 Pro Bowl?

AFC Coaches:

  • Peyton Manning – Head Coach
  • Ray Lewis – Defensive Coordinator
  • Diana Flores – Offensive Coordinator

NFC Coaches:

  • Eli Manning – Head Coach
  • Demarcus Ware – Defensive Coordinator
  • Vanita Krouch – Offensive Coordinator

How will the 2023 Pro Bowl be different from previous editions of the event?

Rather than the traditional tackle football game, this year’s Pro Bowl will debut a skills competition and a non-contact flag football game.

How will scoring work?

According to the NFL, points will be calculated in the following way:

  • The winning conference of each skill competition earns three points towards their team’s overall score, with 24 total points available across the eight skills events.
  • The winning conference from each of the first two Flag football games on Sunday will earn six points for their team, for a total of 12 available points.
  • Points from the skills competitions and first two Flag games will be added together and will be the score at the beginning of the third and final Flag game, which will determine the winning conference for The Pro Bowl Games.

How to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl:

  • Where: Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada
  • When: Thursday, February 2 (7:00 PM ET) and Sunday, February 5 (3:00 PM ET)
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

What teams are playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs marking the first time since 2017 that both top seeds qualified for the Super Bowl.


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Super Bowl food 2023: Appetizer, entrée, and dessert ideas for Super Bowl LVII inspired by the Eagles and Chiefs

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As the countdown continues toward Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are getting their game plans set. But while they go over their plays, the rest of America goes over their menus in preparation for the big day. When it comes to the Super Bowl, everything is always the best — the best teams, the best performers and, of course, the best food.

But how can you impress your party in the kitchen while showing support for your favorite team? Let’s take a look at some iconic food from each of the Super Bowl team cities to prepare for Super Bowl LVII.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl LVII: Date, location, how to watch

Philadelphia Super Bowl food

Crabfries

Why have plain old fries when you could have crabfries? That’s exactly what Pete Ciarrocchi, the CEO of the legendary Philadelphia restaurant Chickie and Pete’s, said one day when creating this intriguing concoction.

While the name may be misleading, crabfries do not contain any actual crab, but rather a blend of spices and Old Bay seasoning that allow the dish to take on a subtle seafood flavor. Topped with a creamy, cheesy dipping sauce, the crinkle-cut fries are sure to take your taste buds to the next level.

Cheesesteak sloppy joes

It simply isn’t Philly without a cheesesteak. Keep it casual in your kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday with Katie Lee Biegel’s Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes, an easy way to rep the Birds.

Can’t get enough of the cheesesteak? Bring some more Philly specials to the table with this cheesesteak dip, the perfect way to amp up your appetizer game and leave party guests feeling like they just took a trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

RELATED: Rob Gronkowski predicts Eagles to win Super Bowl LVII

Water ice

Is the action of the game heating up? Cool down with a classic Philly treat, water ice. First originating in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 1984, the icy dessert is now sold in over 600 stores nationwide. The original Rita’s Water Ice shop, however, still remains open for business.

You can even show a little extra passion for the Birds by whipping up this green apple variation, sure to leave you refreshed and ready for the Lombardi.

Kansas City Super Bowl food

Cheese slippers

If you’re looking for a classy, yet authentic appetizer to bring to the table, there’s no better fit than the cheese slipper. This ciabatta loaf baked with melty cheeses and topped with seasonal vegetables and herbs has Kansas City natives hooked.

While the bread is typically baked to perfection by local shops, test your own skill level with this gourmet slipper bread recipe that you can complete with the mouth-watering toppings of your choice.

RELATED: How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs been to, won?

BBQ burnt ends

It’s rare to hear the words Kansas City without barbeque following short after. If you’re looking to impress your guests with your Super Bowl food spread, get out to the grill and start showing off.

While many cities in America know how to cook up some excellent BBQ, the combination of the sweet flavors and mouth-watering sauce has made Kansas City a hub for barbeque lovers for decades.

BBQ burnt ends, while a bit time-consuming, are  well worth a little elbow grease. The dish is also one of the few in Kansas City with a distinct origin story. The meal first found its creation at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, a legendary African American restaurant in KC. Bryant originally made the burnt ends from the trimmings of pork belly, but since then, BBQ lovers have made incredible bites out of many styles of meat.

And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try fixing up some classic Kansas City sides to pair with your entrée to perfection.

RELATED: What to know about Rihanna, the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer

Chiefs chocolate chip cookies

While there is no specific dessert that defines the Heart of America, you can still show your Kansas City pride with these ever-colorful Chiefs chocolate chip cookies.

Make sure to have your food dye handy, because the red and yellow hue of these cookies are sure to show everyone whose side you are on.

Or, if you’re feeling artistic, design an eye-catching Chiefs jersey out of the fan-favorite rice krispie treats. Whether you make Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce or Chris Jones, you’ll have the tastiest Super Bowl jerseys around.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs:

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