NFL Rumors: NFL Could Add 'Week 18' Buffer to Handle Possible Schedule Adjustments

The NFL would consider pushing the start of the 2020 playoffs back a week to create a buffer week—"Week 18"—as it looks to handle schedule adjustments caused by COVID-19, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

According to NFL Network, if the league adds in a buffer week, the league's playoff schedule would only have one week between the championship games and the Super Bowl.

The AFC and NFC championship games are both currently scheduled to take place on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Super Bowl LV currently is set to occur on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

The timing of the reporting on a possible "Week 18" comes as the Titans are in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Titans reportedly had two more positive COVID-19 tests on Sunday morning, increasing their total to 18 members of the organization. 

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Nine players and nine team personnel members have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFL and NFLPA are investigating whether the team violated the league's virus-related protocols.

On Saturday, Patriots quarterback Cam Newton and Chiefs practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta'amu reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. The Chiefs and Patriots were slated to play on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. However, the NFL announced it will reschedule the matchup on Monday or Tuesday.

Check out the latest news and notes from around the NFL:

  • Bucs coach Bruce Arians told reporters that O.J. Howard is believed to have ruptured his Achilles, which would end the TE's 2020 season. 
  • The NFL is holding a call with head coaches and GMs from across the league on Monday following the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the league. (Ian Rapoport & Tom Pelissero, NFL Network)
  • Brian Hoyer is expected to start at QB for the Patriots when the team meets with the Chiefs. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)
  • Other than with the Titans, there were no additional positive COVID-19 tests Sunday morning around the NFL. (Adam Schefter, ESPN)
  • The Titans will not open their facility until at least Wednesday following six straight days of consecutive tests. (Adam Schefter, ESPN)
  • Texans HC Bill O'Brien will be more involved in the game-planning and play-calling of the Texans' offense despite attempting to take a step back from both to begin the season. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)
  • The Patriots and Chiefs are doing point of care tests Sunday morning and still plan to play Monday or Tuesday. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)
  • Washington QB Dwayne Haskins could be pulled Sunday if he struggles vs. the Ravens. (Ian Rapoport, NFL Network)
  • Pending negative test results, the Patriots will travel to Kansas City on Monday morning to play the Chiefs Monday night. The tests of both teams taken Sunday morning returned negative. (Albert Breer, The MMQB)
  • The NFL announced that the Patriots and Chiefs will play on Monday with kickoff at 7:05 p.m. ET. Monday night's Falcons-Packers game will be at 8:50 p.m. ET (NFL)