How COVID wreaked havoc on NFL in Week 12

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On Sunday, the NFL passed the two-thirds point of the regular season. When Green Bay’s beatdown of Chicago was done late Sunday night, the NFL was finished with 175 of its 256 regular-season games—68.4 percent—with five weeks to go. And zero games postponed to a possible murky Week 18 on Jan. 10—the Sunday on what currently is scheduled to be Wild-Card Weekend.

“I’m absolutely amazed that we’ve done as well as we have,” Bill Polian, the Hall of Fame GM and adviser to Goodell, told me Sunday afternoon. “The incredible adaptability that [league officials] have shown, and the clubs of course have cooperated tremendously. Who would ever think that you’d have virtual meetings? It’s just beyond anything we’ve had to do before. The fact that it’s gone as well as it has is incredible to me.”

Not sure I’d use “incredible” in an altogether great way. The spectacle in Denver on Sunday wasn’t really a football game so much as one of 256 the NFL had to get out of the way. And Ravens-Steelers might look great on the NBC marquee, but it won’t look so good in the ratings unless Baltimore finds some way to play a competitive game. Which I’m dubious about.

Four points about where the NFL is right now:

• You were warned. In May, I wrote about the wholly unfair season on the horizon. Not my idea; it was what I was being told by influencers in high places—league office, Competition Committee, one owner with sway. “I think you have to look at 2020 as an experimental year that is off-kilter,” one club executive told me after the draft. “It’s a litmus test in how we adapt.” If you want to have a season, another club official said, accept the fact that your team is going to have some hardships you can’t do anything about. Don’t complain about the things you’d normally complain about; be thankful there’s a season.

• The football’s been good, mostly. You know what’s struck me? Some of the best games have been played under pretty tough circumstances. Think, for instance, of Atlanta’s best game of the season (well, maybe till the rout of the Raiders on Sunday). The Falcons were 0-5, fired the coach and the GM, had the following week disrupted by some COVID cases, practiced only once, and went to Minnesota and routed the Vikings 40-23. Tennessee went 17 days without practicing during its early-season outbreak, and responded by beating Buffalo 42-16. New England had to fly to Kansas City on the day of the game in Week 4, without starting quarterback Cam Newton, and 40 minutes into the game, mighty KC was up by three. Scoring’s up, penalties are down. Players seem happier not beating themselves up as much in practice.

• Virtual football is weird, but it has its advantages. Juju Smith-Schuster told me last week his dog Boujee wonders why he’s home so much. He used to be gone from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or so on weekdays. Now the Steelers do their morning classroom meetings by videoconference, with players home for them, and Smith-Schuster leaves the house around 11 for practice and he’s home by 2:45-ish. “Sometimes he looks at me like, ‘Why you still here?’ ‘’ Smith-Schuster said of Boujee.

Virtual learning hasn’t been as much of a chore as you think. “The little things for special teams, offense and defense throughout the week—that’s something we miss,” Smith-Schuster said. “But the thing with virtual that helps a lot—it gives us time to be separated, to stay at home in our own comfortable space, avoiding COVID and also gives us time to rest our bodies, or do treatment while we’re in meetings. As far as my teammates and how we like it, so far we love it.”

• The forfeit concept doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a part of the game. Lots of issues with it, even if a team suffers some positive tests by ignoring strict adherence to protocols. If a game’s not played, does the perpetrating team get a loss in the standings, and does its foe that week get a win just for having the good fortune of being on the schedule that week? If a game’s not played, by agreement with the players union, players are not paid that week; that’s not going to work. The NFL seems to believe a bit in Hammurabi’s Code this season: If the Broncos’ quarterbacks messed up in protocol behavior (they admit to being lax with mask-wearing in an off-day film session with one positive player in the room who they didn’t know was positive at the time), then the Broncos should suffer for it. That’s not the reason the NFL gave for not allowing Denver to push Sunday’s game back a day or two, but it’s a sort of eye-for-an-eye byproduct. The NFL said if the Broncos had enough able-bodied players, well, tough luck.


Earlier in the column I addressed the October letter to teams from Goodell. But the Denver-New Orleans game filled my email box with messages from (if I may generalize) ticked-off Broncos fans. Wrote Dan Wilson: “I’m hoping in your column this week you can give some insight into why Broncos fans were subjected to the travesty of what should have been a football game, but really didn’t resemble much of one. Why would the NFL reschedule other games but not this one? Why single out the Broncos?”

I agree that it would have been more equitable, without much of a downside except for inconveniencing the Saints, to push the game to Tuesday, when three of the Denver quarterbacks, had they continued to test negative, would have been eligible to play because they’d have tested negative for five days since last being in close contact with the positive player. The NFL moved the Baltimore game (twice) because the league said it wanted to get past the period that players would most likely test positive for the same strain of the virus that was sweeping the team. Dawn Aponte of the league’s football operations team told me Sunday that when the league approved 16-man Practice Squads, part of the reasoning was that the league “would not postpone or reschedule a game simply because of perceived or actual competitive implications—and that went all the way through multiple players up to an entire position group.”

Added Polian: “So it’s up to each club to make sure that they have enough players to cover any kind of occurrence that would take place. In this particular case, they [the Broncos] did have four quarterbacks, but if you’ll remember that [Bucs coach] Bruce Arians at the very beginning of training camp talked about quarantining one quarterback, keeping him out of the line of fire, so that he’s available in case this very thing should happen. Denver did not do that.”

Starting quarterback Drew Lock put the blame on his shoulders Sunday on social media for not being disciplined enough when the quarterbacks came in last Tuesday for some voluntary tape study. Masks were worn, but not all the time. Distance was fudged, the players not keeping six feet apart at all times, and it was clear from someone who watched the tape of the session, with the four quarterbacks in the room, that Lock and the quarterbacks were too comfortable with each other. Lock stepping up didn’t absolve him in the eyes of his coach, whose staff had to figure out a game plan with no quarterbacks, to play against one of the best teams in football. Not optimal. “I was disappointed on a couple levels,” coach Vic Fangio said. “That our quarterbacks put us in this position and that our quarterbacks put the league in this position. We count on them to be the leaders of the team and leaders of the offense and those guys made a mistake and that is disappointing . . . There was a failing there and that’s disappointing.”

Back to the Baltimore story. This was a fast-moving story, as you’ll be able to tell by looking at the timeline of the changing of the game—twice. The changes were due to the virus infecting several players and staff members, and then not slowing down in time to play either Thursday or Sunday in the league’s estimation.

Wednesday, 12:30 p.m., Pittsburgh: The NBC production meeting with the Ravens for the Thanksgiving night game was in progress. The NBC crew and staff in town to do the Thursday game were in a Pittsburgh hotel, in separate rooms on videoconference with the Ravens. NFL schedule czar Howard Katz called Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli, who was on the videoconference, to say the game was moving to Sunday because of more positives in Baltimore. Bummer. The Thanksgiving night game is a huge ratings draw and Black Friday ad hub.

Wednesday, 12:45 p.m. Gaudelli and Katz talk again, with the NFLer asking if NBC wanted to do the game Sunday afternoon. Gaudelli said he’d call him back. A few minutes later, Gaudelli tells Katz that NBC wants the game, but now he has to find a truck to do the game—the regular SNF truck would now have to leave for Green Bay to do Bears-Packers Sunday night, to, presumably, a bigger audience.

Wednesday, 3:05 p.m. Gaudelli gets a truck, gets his bosses’ okay and tells Katz yes, we’ll take the Sunday afternoon game. So now it’s a waiting game, Gaudelli and crew waiting in Pittsburgh now till Sunday, not just Thursday. Quiet time. Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff eat takeout from Morton’s two nights in a row in a big meeting room, socially distanced.

Thursday, 8 p.m. “We’ve had some grim holiday meals over the years,” Gaudelli tells Esocoff, “but this might be the grimmest.” Add this to the festivities: Katz calls and says they’d have to move the game to Tuesday night for COVID reasons. Crazy time. More phone calls from Gaudelli to bosses. Early Friday afternoon, the NFL announces the game is moved to Tuesday, on NBC.

I’ve been told the Ravens are okay with taking their medicine. They’d prefer, of course, to switch the game to Jan. 10, but also realize they don’t have much of a leg to stand on, because reportedly it’s one of the coaches in the strength-and-conditioning area who may have violated COVID protocols with mask-wearing in the building and another protocol violation or two. They’re owning the problem.

A couple of other issues: The league told the Ravens late in the week that the virus was in its late stages . . . and then two more players tested positive Saturday and another Sunday. If today’s early-morning tests show any more player positives, I doubt the league would move to postpone the game, but it should seriously consider it; how could the league be sure the virus has run its course within the team if positives keep happening? Plus, no practice for so many unproven or inexperienced players bugs the team.

Who knows? Maybe this will be a galvanizing thing for the slumping Ravens and give them the spark they’ve been missing much of the year. We’d all be naïve to think the Ravens will be the last team to get hit.

Tonight, Seattle at Philadelphia, is game 176. Tomorrow in Pittsburgh, the league hopes, will be game 177.

Wednesday morning: 79 games left. Eyes on the prize. Eyes on 256, then 13 in the playoffs. Delays only mean more days to swab out positive tests. The 2020 season isn’t art. It’s an endurance test.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

How to watch Super Bowl 2023: TV channel, live stream info, start time, halftime show, and more

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Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 PM ET at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals–in Glendale, Arizona as Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles will look to win their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history and Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs make their third Super Bowl appearance in the last four seasons.

Not only will the match up feature two top seeds for the first time since 2017, but Super Bowl 2023 will be especially monumental because this is the first time that two Black quarterbacks will face each other in the league’s biggest game of the year.

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

Super Bowl 2023 will be nothing short of exciting, see below for additional information on how to watch/live stream the game as well as answers to all your frequently asked questions.

How to Watch Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs

  • Date: Sunday, February 12
  • Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Network: Fox

Who is playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs.

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

Who is the home team in Super Bowl 2023 and how is it determined?

The Philadelphia Eagles are the home team in Super Bowl 2023. The designated home team alternates each year between the NFC and AFC champions. If it is as odd-numbered Super Bowl, the NFC team is the designated home team. If it as even-numbered Super Bowl, the AFC team is the designated home team.

Which teams have been eliminated from the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals have all been eliminated from the 2023 NFL playoffs.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs scores: Final bracket, recaps, results for every AFC and NFC postseason game

Who is performing the halftime show at Super Bowl 2023?

It was announced in September, that international popstar, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Rihanna will headline the halftime show at Super Bowl 2023.

RELATED: Super Bowl 2023 – What to know about national anthem, pregame performers ahead of Super Bowl LVII

Why does the NFL use Roman numerals?

AFL and Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt proposed using Roman numerals for each Super Bowl to add pomp and gravitas to the game. Roman numerals were, unsurprisingly, used in ancient Rome as a number system. I stands for 1, V for 5, X for 10, L for 50 and C for 100. That’s right: In 2066, get ready for Super Bowl C.

Super Bowl V was the first to use Roman numerals. They were retroactively added to the Super Bowl II to IV logos and have been used each year since⁠ until 2016. For Super Bowl L, or 50, the NFL tried out 73 different logos before breaking down and using a plain old “50.”

The Roman numerals for this year’s big game, Super Bowl 57, are LVII.

RELATED: Super Bowl halftime shows – Ranking the 10 best Super Bowl halftime show performances in NFL history

How many Super Bowls have the Eagles won in franchise history?

The Eagles have won just one Super Bowl title in franchise history, however, Super Bowl LVII will be their fourth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

RELATED: Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl History

How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs won in franchise history?

The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls in franchise history (1969 and 2019). Super Bowl LVII will be the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl appearance.

RELATED: Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl History

Who was the first Black quarterback to play in a Super Bowl?

Doug Williams was the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. Williams, a product of Grambling State–a historically Black university–achieved the milestone on January 31, 1988 in Super Bowl XXII as the QB for Washington.

RELATED: FMIA Conference Championships – Eagles rout Niners, Chiefs outlast Bengals to set Super Bowl LVII stage

 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL season and playoffs, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

Chiefs Super Bowl history: When is the last time Kansas City made it to, won the Super Bowl?

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After losing 27-24 in OT to the Cincinnati Bengals in last year’s AFC Championship, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are back in the postseason for the 8th straight year. The Chiefs are now set to make their third Super Bowl appearance in the last 4 seasons, after a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game but their history with the NFL’s most coveted game is so much more.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule – Bracket, game dates, times and TV networks

Super Bowl LVII  takes place on Sunday, February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. See below for additional information on how to watch.

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

Founded in 1960 by Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs started in the American Football League as the Dallas Texans. After winning the 1962 American Football League Championship in the longest championship game in professional football history, Hunt decided to relocate to Kansas City. The team changed its name to the “Chiefs” in honor of Mayor Harold Roe Bartle, who convinced Hunt to move the team to the City of Fountains.

After winning the AFL Championship in 1966, Kansas City represented the American Football League in the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, retroactively known as the first Super Bowl, on January 15, 1967, against the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers. Kansas City played Green Bay close in the first half, but Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points to win the game.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL Playoffs start: dates, schedule, playoff format, overtime rules, and more

It wouldn’t take the Chiefs long to taste victory in the Super Bowl though – it came just three years later in Super Bowl IV. Though they faced the feared Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings defense, Kansas City head coach Hank Stram had a plan. He took advantage of Minnesota’s aggressive defensive with short passes and trap plays. The Chiefs would prevail 23-7 for Kansas City’s first Super Bowl win.

It would be another 50 years until The Kingdom made its return to the Super Bowl, but it would come back armed with some of the most explosive weapons the NFL has ever seen.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs scores: Final bracket, recaps, results for every AFC and NFC postseason game

When was the Chiefs’ last Super Bowl win?

Half of a century went by before the Chiefs earned a Super Bowl berth, but they were back in the 2019 season with a bang in Super Bowl LIV. Led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was coming off an MVP season the previous year, Kansas City made it to the championship game overcoming double-digit deficits in the Divisional Round and AFC Championship Game. They even fell behind by 10 in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.

However, the magic wasn’t over for the Chiefs. The offense scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the team’s second Super Bowl championship. Kansas City retained most of their core and many expected them back in the championship game in 2021.

RELATED: What are the highest-scoring and lowest-scoring Super Bowls in NFL history?

When was the last Chiefs Super Bowl appearance?

While the team did make it to the Super Bowl in the 2020 season, they ran into an old nemesis. Quarterback Tom Brady was now with the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the last time he faced Kansas City was in 2018 as a member of the New England Patriots, who eliminated the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.

He would get the better of them again.

Kansas City could not stop Brady and the Bucs’ offensive onslaught. On the other side, Patrick Mahomes couldn’t move the ball against a Tampa Bay defense that caught fire in the postseason. The end result was a 31-9 rout with The Buccaneers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and the Chiefs hoping to get back to the Super Bowl next year.

Chiefs Super Bowl history

  • 1966 season: Lost Super Bowl I vs. the Green Bay Packers, 35-10
  • 1969 season: Won Super Bowl IV vs. the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7
  • 2019 season: Won Super Bowl LIV vs. the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20
  • 2020 season: Lost Super Bowl LV vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9

Chiefs Super Bowl records and firsts

  • Tied for fewest touchdowns – 0 (Super Bowl LV)
  • Hank Stram was the first head coach ever to be “miked for sound” in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl IV)
  • Lowest attendance for Super Bowl – 24,835 (Super Bowl LV) *due to COVID Pandemic 
  • Lowest attendance, attendance not restricted –  61,946 (Super Bowl I)
  • Participated in first Super Bowl
  • First team to come back from three double-digit deficits in the playoffs and win Super Bowl (2019)
  • Most penalty yards in a half (Super Bowl LV)

How can I watch and live stream Super Bowl 2023?

  • When: Sunday, February 12, 2023
  • Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
  • TV Channel: FOX
  • Follow along with ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports for NFL news, updates, scores, injuries, and more

RELATED: Who is playing in Super Bowl 2023?

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

In addition to Sunday Night Football, what else can I watch with Peacock Premium?

Premium is your key to unlocking everything Peacock has to offer. You’ll get access to all the live sports and events we have, including Premier League and WWE Premium Live Events like WrestleMania. You’ll also get full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, next-day airings of current NBC and Telemundo hits, plus every movie and show available on Peacock. There is always something new to discover on Peacock Premium.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!