The schedule change is official. Pittsburgh and Tennessee will not play this week due to positive Covid-19 tests. That schedule change is having a massively negative impact on the Steelers and not many are talking about all the ways it hurts Pittsburgh this season.
First, the new schedule.
Pittsburgh and Tennessee will now have their bye week in week 4.
The Steelers and Titans will play in week 7 instead of week 4.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh, who were supposed to have their first game in week 7, will now play their first of two matchups in week 8.
To make room for that game the Ravens will now have a week 7 bye week.
Now, onto all the ways this sucks for the Steelers.
1.) New Bye Week and 13 Straight
A week 4 bye week sucks. This is my biggest complaint with the schedule change. Having the earliest bye week in the NFL is a major disadvantage. Not to mention it forces the Steelers to play, at least, 13 games in a row this season. Unless of course this all happens again; more on that later.
2.) Ravens Bye Week
Okay, everyone knows about the Steelers bye week change. What may be even more infuriating is the change in the Ravens schedule. Baltimore’s bye week moves from week 8 to week 7.
That gives the Ravens a bye week right before their first matchup with the Steelers. Baltimore gets two full weeks of prep for a game that could have a major impact on who wins the AFC North division. That is a huge advantage for Baltimore.
It’s also still a mid-year bye week for the Ravens and doesn’t have a huge impact on their scheduling overall. In fact, I would guess they are fans of this change.
3.) No More Room for Change
As of right now, the Steelers have steered clear of the virus. But what happens when that inevitably changes? With the number of players and personnel constantly in contact with one another, it seems unlikely the Steelers will have no cases throughout the entire season.
So, if players test positive in Pittsburgh, what happens? There are no more bye weeks to fill up and no more schedule changes possible now that the Steelers have a full schedule through week 17. This change coming so early in the season may force a much bigger schedule issue later in the season.
Neal Coolong, of SteelersWire.com has probably the only real solution. The NFL needs to, and probably should have ahead of time, add in a “buffer-week.” That would make this an 18-week NFL season, but also give more space for make-up games and game rescheduling.
If the NFL is able to create a buffer week, likely the first-ever Week 18 game, now is the time to do it. This week only proved they can’t entirely contain it.
— Neal Coolong (@NealCoolong) October 3, 2020
Yes I know, Mike Tomlin already said there are no excuses. Also, everyone wants to talk about how the Steelers made a Super Bowl with a week 4 bye before. Great. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a negative change in schedule for Pittsburgh. Not to mention that Tomlin really can’t say much else. If he condemns the change he looks like the bad guy and likely gets fined. He is just playing by the rules.
Unfortunately, this problem is not under control. Players for the Chiefs and Patriots have tested positive as well. That includes Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. Their week 4 match-up has been postponed as well.
NFL says Patriots-Chiefs postponed, will be played Monday or Tuesday … of course they said that about Steelers-Titans for a while too.
— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) October 3, 2020