2020 NFL Midseason Report: Surveying Team Execs; Patrick Mahomes Vs. Michael Jordan

At the midpoint of the NFL season, we surveyed team executives for their takes on who deserves award consideration, surprises and trends around the league, underrated players and the impact of COVID-19. Plus: Let's not do to Patrick Mahomes what we did to Michael Jordan, sucess of young quarterbacks, what we learned this week, power rankings and more.
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Over an 18-year period, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning combined to appear in 18 AFC title games and 13 Super Bowls, winning eight titles. And yet, when all was said and done, the two won only eight (really, it was more like seven and a half) regular season MVP awards.

That’s not a small number, to be sure. But were there 10 years in that timeframe when one of those two was not the most valuable player in the game? I would contend that there were not. Which is evidence that we tend to overcomplicate these things and pick awards based on storylines, and who might be due to win, rather than the best guys for the trophies.

Sometimes, the best answer is the easy one.

And that’s really what I thought of as I conducted my annual midseason awards poll with front-office folks this week and watched a flood of votes in two different categories come in for reigning Super Bowl MVP and 2018 NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. Voting for Mahomes to win his second MVP in three years might not be as interesting as giving Russell Wilson his first MVP. But, as lot of these guys paid to evaluate players see it, it is right.

Some scored the competition for Wilson based on how he’s had to load the Seahawks onto his back, as the defense and running game have struggled for traction. Others just went for the guy who is, quite simply, the best player in the sport.

“Twenty-five-to-one TD to INT ratio,” said one AFC executive. “That’s unheard of.”

I had to look that up to verify it, by the way, maybe because I’ve been desensitized to the outrageousness of what the 25-year-old is doing (which is part of why the great ones sometimes don’t win these awards). Our exec was correct: Mahomes’s TD-to-INT ratio is 25-to-1. He’s also completed 66.9% of his passes for 2,687 yards and a 115.9 rating, which puts him in play for a second 50-touchdown, 5,000-yard season.

When he accomplished that the first time he was just the second player to do it, joining Manning. He could come out of this year with two of the three 50-touchdown, 5,000-yard seasons in NFL history. Again, he turned 25 eight weeks ago.

“Close to a 67% completion percentage, one pick, a little over eight yards per attempt, it’s rare stuff man,” said an NFC exec. “And he could also be a guy who doesn’t get enough credit. We’ve come to just expect this out of him, but we need to truly appreciate what we’re witnessing.”

Consider the results you’re about to read an appreciation.

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Week 10’s here, and so is your GamePlan! Inside the column, we’re bringing you …

• A look at the suddenly high success rate on first-round quarterbacks.

• The tell that the NFL badly wants the Super Bowl played on time.

• Power rankings!

But we’re starting with all the results from our annual poll.

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As many of you know, I’m a child of the ’90s, so I’ve seen this before. Michael Jordan won the NBA MVP award four times during that decade (plus a fifth in 1988), and anyone who lived through that knows that number doesn’t do enough to illustrate how truly dominant he was. But the people who vote on these things found a way to sneak one over to Charles Barkley, and another to Karl Malone, and now it almost looks like a misprint in the history books.

The execs I polled this week didn’t let that happen with Mahomes.

So here’s how we did it, which is pretty much the same way we did it last year: I asked for award winners in six categories (MVP, OPOY, DPOY, OROY, DROY, COY), and presented five poll questions. Then, we tallied up the votes (we got 31 ballots back) and the answers to the poll questions. Remember The MMQB did our own midseason awards round-up, but below is what I got from execs around the league.

MVP

Winner: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (17 votes).

Also receiving votes: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (9), Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (3), Saints RB Alvin Kamara (1), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (1).

My take: Mahomes wound up appearing as MVP or Offensive Player of the Year on 23 of 31 ballots. He was named both MVP and OPOY on two of those ballots. Which is, again, reflective of his standing as the sport’s best player.

Offensive Player of the Year

Winner: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (10 votes).

Also receiving votes: Mahomes (8), Wilson (4), Kamara (2.5), Rodgers (1.5), Bills QB Josh Allen (1), Saints QB Drew Brees (1), Bills WR Stefon Diggs (1), Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf (1), Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (1).

My take: The vagueness on the definition of this award—and how it’s different from the MVP, which always goes to an offensive player—often means it’s interpreted every which way. That’s the case here. But if you take it as a non-QB award, as many people do? Then Cook is very deserving (as is my pick, Kamara).

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Rams DT Aaron Donald (10 votes).

Also receiving votes: Steelers OLB T.J. Watt (8), Browns DE Myles Garrett (7), Buccaneers LB Devin White (3), Cardinals S Budda Baker (2), 49ers MLB Fred Warner (1).

My take: Score another one for the best player—Donald’s been dominant, and really made it easier for new Rams coordinator Brandon Staley to implement a new scheme. But Watt and Garrett are very much in play for the award with eight weeks to go.

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Winner (tie): Chargers QB Justin Herbert and Bengals QB Joe Burrow (15 votes each).

Also receiving votes: Jaguars RB James Robinson (1).

My take: I see this vote as two things: a tribute to how steady and solid Burrow’s been since being thrown into a rebuilding situation, and a tribute to how many people Herbert has proven wrong as he’s come on. This one should be a fight to the finish.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Winner: Ravens LB Patrick Queen (12 votes).

Also receiving votes: Washington DE Chase Young (9), Panthers S Jeremy Chinn (4), Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield (4), Colts S Julian Blackmon (1), Bears CB Jaylon Johnson (1).

My take: I thought this would be Young, who has 17 quarterback pressures in seven games, and already looks like an All-Pro. Then I checked out Queen’s stat line: 52 tackles, five QB hits, four tackles for losses, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a pass defensed and a touchdown. Baltimore got him with the 28th pick, by the way.

Coach of the Year

Winner (tie): Brian Flores, Dolphins; and Mike Tomlin, Steelers (14 votes each).

Also receiving votes: Sean McDermott, Bills (2); Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals (1).

My take: I think this is a result of how you interpret the award. If you look at who has his team in the best spot, and has brought the most consistency, it’s Tomlin. If you look at who’s brought his team back from the dead, it’s Flores. Both have done a great job.

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Josh Allen

Poll questions 

What’s your biggest surprise so far this year, and why?

• One NFC GM said, simply, “How many young quarterbacks are having success.” And he wasn’t the only one with that sentiment. An AFC GM said his surprise was “the play of Josh Allen. The coaching staff has done a tremendous job developing him.” And another NFC personnel chief looked at even younger guys than that, saying, “How well both Burrow and Herbert have played as rookie QBs (and Tua could bring this to three by end of the year). Don’t usually see two guys come in and play with that much command over an offense.” Another NFC exec echoed that, emailing, “Rookie QBs (Burrow, Herbert, Tua) having early-season success with a virtual offseason, no OTAs and no pre-season games.”

• America’s Team came up a bunch too, as did the division they play in. To our question, one NFC exec texted: “Dallas. Yes, they have had injuries, but they are a mess on both sides of the ball.” Another NFC exec echoed that, saying, “Even before Dak’s injury, this is a team that is way more talented than their play and record suggest.” And from an AFC exec: “A disaster—horrific turn of events while having Super Bowl hopes coming in. It’s not just Dak’s injury, everything has gone wrong.” Others lumped division rivals in with Dallas. “NFC East,” said an AFC GM, “Cowboys and Eagles suck.” Another AFC GM added, “I’m surprised the Eagles are not dominating the NFC East, and surprised Wentz looks like a rookie. Worst year of his career.”

• COVID-19 came up repeatedly, too, and it was actually in a positive way. “No postponed games or shutdowns yet,” texted an NFC exec. “Players, teams and league have done a great job. Hope we can keep it up.” An AFC pro scouting director pointed to a more specific situation for his surprise: “that the league so smoothly navigated the initial outbreak in Tennessee.” Another AFC scouting director summed up the sentiment I got from lots of folks this way: “That we have made it thus far. It was hard to believe back in July we would have a season at all with so many questions that hadn’t been answered. The NFL has done a great job, regardless of the final outcome.”

• You’ll see Flores come up repeatedly, and this was another place where the job the Dolphins’ coach has done was lauded. “Biggest surprise thus far is the job Brian Flores is doing with the Miami Dolphins,” said an exec from a rival AFC team. “Flo has done a great job. He has a lot of new parts on offense and defense along with a new OC and DC. Oh, and no offseason to get those pieces to gel. It’s easy to spend a ton of money in free agency and pick a bunch of players in the draft but the ability to bring those pieces together in such a short amount of time with no offseason is impressive.”

• And if you want one more feel good answer, here’s one from an NFC scouting director: “Seeing Alex Smith play in a game and throw a pass, let alone for 300-plus yards. Truly remarkable. He didn’t need to play in a game to be Comeback Player of the Year in my eyes. To be active and suited on a roster was a special sight.”

Which player from another team doesn’t get the credit he deserves?

• Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey was a popular answer for the second straight year. “They just paid him, but he is very unique—inside/outside, matches on perimeter, slot and TEs,” said an AFC personnel director. “Opens up their defense to be very flexible.” An AFC pro scouting director added, “For decades, Baltimore’s personality came from the linebacker room. That guy for them now is an outside corner.”

• Another popular answer: Fred Warner, and you’ll see that he actually got a DPOY vote in the tally above. One AFC scouting director called him “one of the elite playmakers at the ILB position in the NFL.” An NFC exec made it simpler: “He’s a BEAST.” His presence here, too, should illustrate the Niners’ comfort level in moving Kwon Alexander.

• Bills WR Stefon Diggs also got multiple mentions, and an OPOY vote. “We all knew how good Stefon was in Minnesota, but I didn’t think he would mean this much to Josh Allen and the Bills offense,” said a rival AFC exec. “The Bills staff did a great job identifying a weakness and finding a solution. Also, tip the hat to the Vikings for finding a like-piece [Justin Jefferson] to replace him; both teams should be thrilled moving forward.”

• Budda Baker was also mentioned on multiple lists, and got multiple DPOY votes—and yet, somehow it feels like he’s best known for getting run down by D.K. Metcalf on SNF.

• Others garnering mention here (in no particular order): Roethlisberger, Kamara, Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett, Steelers LB Vince Williams, Eagles DE Brandon Graham, Colts DT DeForest Buckner, Saints DE Trey Hendrickson, Bengals WR Tyler Boyd, Raiders RB Josh Jacobs, Steelers DL Cam Heyward, Packers WR Davante Adams, Rams QB Jared Goff, Bucs LB Lavonte David, Broncos DL Shelby Harris, Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater, Browns RB Nick Chubb, Broncos S Justin Simmons.

Which coach has done the most with the least?

• Panthers coach Matt Rhule didn’t get a single Coach of the Year vote, probably because you don’t get that sort of award without a winning record. But he was mentioned by eight different personnel people in response to this question. “Rhule has his team in every game, they look sound, and seem to play good, complementary football,” said an AFC exec. This is a guy who was coaching at Baylor a year ago and had no offseason to implement his culture and schematic approach. Impressive.” An NFC exec added, “Competitive in every game with a young, rebuilding roster, and without their best player [Christian McCaffrey] for a good majority of the season.” And then there was this from another AFC personnel director: “Rhule’s right behind Brian [Flores] in terms of getting a very thin and young roster to compete at such a high level in Year 1, with no preseason. Regardless of record, no one expects an easy day at the office facing Matt and the Panthers. Future’s bright in Carolina.”

• Yup, Flores showed up a lot here too—equaling Rhule’s eight mentions. A rival AFC GM said, in putting the Miami coach down here, that it was easy for him to see that the Dolphins are “well-coached and know how they want to play. They understand how to give themselves a chance to win each game.” An NFC exec added, “They’re playing excellent defense and winning games, and he made the tough decision to bench a veteran QB to play Tua after winning two in a row.” And another AFC exec: “Added some core/glue guys in free agency but they’re still not deep. Robbed the Texans for top-of-the-draft picks while improving in the win column. Arrow is up for sure down in South Beach.” And one NFC exec made it simple: “Flores has something special going on down there.”

• 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was the other coach whose name came up on more than one occasion in response to this question, based on the absolute avalanche of injury issues that San Francisco has dealt with. “Team’s decimated with injuries to great players, and they’re still in the playoff hunt.”

• Titans coach Mike Vrabel got a mention here from an NFC GM: “They don’t have a lot of flashy stars, but they’re well-coached and play physical.” And Bengals coach Zac Taylor got a nod, too, at 2–5–1 and coming off a win over Vrabel’s Titans. “He’s a doing a great job,” said an AFC exec. “He has a rookie QB playing at a very high level. He’s trying to change the culture and was able to ship a disgruntled veteran player out [Carlos Dunlap] and get a win the next week. Sometimes it’s addition by subtraction. His defense is playing hard and overachieving with the talent they have. I think they are trending in the right direction.”

What trend is happening in the NFL right now that no one is talking about?

• One thing that came up repeatedly: how ready young players in general, and quarterbacks in particular, have been, despite the circumstances of the COVID-19 offseason. “I’d say [the trend] is good rookie quarterback play,” said an AFC GM. An AFC personnel director added to that, saying, “The wave of young QBs has been impressive. The NFL is in good hands moving forward. I think organizations are doing a much better job taking young QBs, finding what they do best and putting them in situations to succeed. Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and even Tua over the last few weeks have looked good.” An NFC exec bolstered the point with this: “It’s the quality play from rookie and second-year QBs. No longer need to wait to get them ‘ready.’ They show up ready to go based on high schools and colleges throwing so much more than they did 10 years ago.”

• Some of the new rules for 2020 have also created trends—and we’ll have to see if some COVID-19-specific rules stick to know if they’ll be lasting. “It’s the amount of transactions that have occurred on rosters,” said an NFC exec. “The smart teams have used the expansion of the practice squads and the ability to sign ‘quality’ vets to get them in shape and up to speed for a couple weeks and then elevate to their active rosters.” An AFC exec mentioned the change there, with 16 players on practice squads, with six vested vets allowed in the group, and “I hope that stays permanent going forward.” And here’s one specific to 2020 and the new IR rules, per an AFC GM: “Using three-week IR as a way of stashing players short term to keep/protect other players on the roster.”

• There were some X’s-and-O’s answers on this one too. Here are a few …

1) NFC exec: “The trend is speed at linebacker at all three spots, not just OLB. These offenses are spreading the field and linebackers need to cover a lot of grass. The days of the two-down MLB are over.”

2) AFC exec: “Really, this has been going the last few years but more proliferated now—RPO with perimeter runs (sweeps). People are making it easier for QBs to get some easy throws.”

3) NFC exec: “The influx of college offensive schemes and number of “trick” plays this year.”

4) NFC personnel director: “Teams have caught up to Baltimore’s offense and have a better sense of how to defend Lamar [Jackson].”

5) AFC exec: “Hybrid DB/LBs that can essentially play in base and sub (nickel) without subbing. Big and strong enough to tackle and hold up against the run while being athletic enough to cover man and zone.”

6) AFC GM: “QB runs are really affecting defenses.”

• And this was something that I think we’ve all seen a little bit, via an NFC exec: “Poor offensive line play. Lack of offseason and shortened preseason may have hurt this group the most. A number of injuries to some of the best lineman around the league coupled with the lack of quality linemen to go around has led to a lot of bad offensive line play.”

What’s the biggest effect COVID-19 has had on the league?

• The effect of the coming salary cap shortfall was a popular topic here. One AFC exec: “COVID has effected 2021 and beyond more than 2020, with teams wary of the decrease in cap, as evidenced by the low activity at the trade deadline.” Indeed, teams haven’t just been cognizant of where they are from a cap perspective next year, they’re also more conservative with cap space now, knowing every dollar they spend now can’t roll over to 2021.

• Sudden change—losing a group of players on the fly—was another common answer. “Loss of personnel, preparation time, and then lack of leadership from the league,” said an AFC exec. “They’re sending 9,000 memos, typically on a Friday afternoon.”

• One interesting answer I got: It’s forcing coaches to be more resourceful with their roster, and work harder to get more out of the guys they have in-house, right down to those on the practice squad. “There’s more coaching going on because you can’t just cut a guy and get another guy in,” said an NFC exec. “If you just get a guy out of there, you’re going to be down a body for practice because you have to wait a week for them to test. So you have to be aware of who the next guy is from your practice squad and then be ready to replace them at a week’s notice. It’s something we talk about constantly. We have to know where we’re thin and almost see into the future of where a problem could arise.”

• That six-day testing period did come up repeatedly, in how it makes it difficult for anyone to add players to fix issues on their rosters as they go. One NFC exec pointed to it as one of a number of challenges that make it tougher to churn guys through roster spots: “You are seeing less players being waived and claimed on the waiver wire daily, due to the new short-term IR rules and new practice squad flex/protect rules—coupled with the time it takes to get a player through the testing protocols.”

• A few guys mentioned the personal side of this, and how hard it’s been on the people around NFL players and team staffers. “It’s not getting to enjoy it with family and friends,” said an NFC GM. “We pour our heart and soul into this game, our teams, and oftentimes the payoff is the priceless experiences that you all get to share together. COVID makes the payoff not feasible. That sucks.” Another NFC exec added, “Biggest impact of COVID is on family and friends of players. Bye week, the players can’t go home to see family. Family and friends coming to visit have to jump through hoops to see players, which is definitely worth it. The NFL has done a great job and everyone has made sacrifices to pull this off but players and their families have been most impacted by this pandemic.”

• One AFC GM kept it simple, and relatable, on this question: “A lot of sleepness nights.”

• And we can wrap this one up on a positive note. This, from an NFC exec: “I want to find a positive in this: It’s brought people closer because of the sacrifices that everyone knows they have made together to try and get the job done. Top to bottom. It’s not perfect, but everyone’s trying to do their part. It’s pretty cool to see what happens when we all can work together for a common goal!”

That common goal for the teams, of course, is always to win. For the league itself, the goal is more modest: It just wants the season played. Through a lot of fits and starts, now, we’re halfway there.

Which means everyone’s accomplished a lot to get here. And also that everyone still has a very long ways to go.

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POWER RANKINGS

The MMQB brought back the staff power rankings poll this week, since we’re at the midpoint of the season. Here’s my personal top five.

1) Pittsburgh Steelers (8–0): Whether or not they’re the best team in football is debatable. But getting through half the year undefeated—especially this year—isn’t to be sneezed at. And with an ascending trio of young receivers (JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool), there’s room for growth, too.

2) Kansas City Chiefs (8–1): Even after having to fight off a feisty Panthers team, the Chiefs feel like a team that’s going keep cruising along, wind up with the No. 1 seed in the AFC and then be pretty difficult to take out in January. Halfway through the year, a repeat title would surprise exactly no one.

3) Baltimore Ravens (6–2): I liked what I saw from Lamar Jackson in the second half against a really good Colts defense, and continue to like what I’m seeing from the Baltimore defense. Which is why I stuck with my preseason pick of the Ravens to win the Super Bowl.

4) New Orleans Saints (6–2): On the podcast this week, I advanced my belief that the Saints have the best roster in football. And I think the Bucs game was a great example of just how complete New Orleans can be. Overall creativity and versatility on offense and a strong pass rush on defense won it on Sunday night.

5) Green Bay Packers (6–2): Beating San Francisco, undermanned as the Niners might’ve been, was clearing a hurdle for Matt LaFleur’s group, given how those two games went last year. And the rest of the schedule sets up nicely for the team to get to 12 wins or so.

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THE BIG QUESTION

After that Tua Tagovailoa–Kyler Murray showdown, where does the NFL stand at QB?

I think this is an interesting question, in part because the 2021 draft class looks like an absolute bumper crop at the position, and Tagovailoa and Murray are prospects who probably wouldn’t have elicited a second look as first-round prospects 20 years ago. And the idea really came from one NFC executive’s answer to my trend question in the above midseason poll.

“Quality play from rookie and second-year QBs,” he answered, via text. “No longer need to wait to get them ‘ready.’ They show up ready to go based on high schools and colleges throwing so much more than they did 10 years ago.”

In Wednesday’s mailbag, I listed, off hand, reasons why I think so many quarterbacks have been able to pull this off—playing, and playing well so early. And there are probably more that I missed (since it was, again, off-hand). But the results have been undeniable, and you can now go back a half decade and see how different the hit rate in the first round at the position has been.

The guys who went No. 1 and 2 in 2015 (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota) didn’t work out for the teams drafting them, for a variety reasons. Since then, though?

2016: Jared Goff (1), Carson Wentz (2), Paxton Lynch (26).

2017: Mitchell Trubisky (2), Patrick Mahomes (10), Deshaun Watson (12).

2018: Baker Mayfield (1), Sam Darnold (3), Josh Allen (7), Josh Rosen (10), Lamar Jackson (32).

2019: Kyler Murray (1), Daniel Jones (6), Dwayne Haskins (15).

2020: Joe Burrow (1), Tua Tagovailoa (5), Justin Herbert (6).

That’s 17 quarterbacks over five drafts.

In the first two of those classes, the two that have been eligible for big second contracts, four players have elicited top-of-the-market deals, and two have been busts. In the third class, we have two hits (Allen and Jackson), two we’ll-see types (Mayfield and Darnold) and a bust (Rosen). In the fourth, we’ve got a guy trending toward being a hit (Murray), a we’ll see (Jones) and a guy trending toward bust (Haskins). With this year’s class, it’s really too early to make sweeping judgments, but signs are good on all three first-rounders.

That means, added up, you’re really looking at three of the 17 that you can call busts now, and a fourth going that way, which gives you hope on 13 of the 17.

That’s a really good percentage—and will probably remain one even if a few guys fall off—and it’s a credit to the way the NFL’s evolved in evaluating and coaching the position. And it sure looks like we’re going to get a lot more of it next year, too, with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance long established as first-rounders, and BYU’s Zach Wilson, Alabama’s Mac Jones and Florida’s Kyle Trask now giving chase to try and join them as Day 1 picks.

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WHAT NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT

What the NFL owners actually voted through this week.

If you’re this deep into my column, I’m sure you heard the contingency of a 16-team playoff was approved on Tuesday by the 32 teams (only to account for the possibility the league loses meaningful games from the schedule because of COVID-19). But to really understand what it tells you about where those owners stand, you have to look at the fine print in Resolution G-6.

In there, you’ll find the following …

• “The member clubs reaffirm their commitment to safely and responsibly play a full regular season schedule within 17 weeks.”

• “If the 256-game regular season cannot be completed in 17 weeks but can be completed by adding one additional week to the regular season (“Week 18”), the regular season will be extended to include a Week 18 for that purpose.”

• “Clubs may play an unequal number of regular season games if postponed games cannot be played. The NFL Emergencies and Unfair Acts Policy states the following in the event a game or games cannot be rescheduled: If a game is canceled, a team’s standing in its division or in its conference shall be determined on the basis of its final record. When necessary, playoff tiebreakers shall be calculated according to per game average for all team.

From there, the proposal laid out how a 16-team playoff (rather than a 14-team playoff) would trigger. Per the proposal, “If the 256-game regular season is played, or if games that are unable to be played do not otherwise affect eligibility or seeding for the postseason,” then we’ll have a 14-team playoff. And, “If the 256-game regular season cannot be played in either 17 or 18 weeks” and meaningful games are lost, we get a 16-team playoff.

So there’s a lot of language in there, and the obvious big takeaway is that we could have four more playoff teams than we did last year (given that they already expanded the field from 12 teams to 14).

My second takeaway on what the owners voted through here? The league really, really wants to finish the season as scheduled, with Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa. They’ve canceled the Pro Bowl, and now have voted through the contingency plan for a Week 18 (which would allow the Super Bowl to be played as scheduled, with the elimination of the bye week for the Super Bowl teams).

And if you cut deeper here, you can see even more intent. Basically, in voting through these plans this week, the NFL was faced with the choice—would we rather keep adding weeks to the schedule to get all 256 games in, or create a cutoff, sign off on the possibility of teams playing an uneven number of games, and devise a plan to satiate the networks and recover lost revenue (adding the two playoff games)? The NFL very clearly chose the latter here.

So the league is committed to doing everything it can to play the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

It doesn’t take Pete Rozelle to figure out why. One, pulling off a Super Bowl is a Herculean task to begin with, and is going to be even more difficult, for obvious reasons, this year. Giving the game a floating date would only add to the trouble. And two, moving the Super Bowl and the playoffs would wreak havoc on the league’s offseason schedule and ability to have as normal a 2021 as possible.

Now, maybe COVID-19 will get worse across America, and the NFL won’t have a choice. But if they do have one, this week, the owners made clear which way they would go.

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THE FINAL WORD

I’ll say this: I don’t know if anyone had Dolphins–Chargers (one of six late-afternoon games set for Sunday, thanks to The Masters) in Week 10 marked down when the schedule came out. But it’s legitimately the game I’m most looking forward to this week.

Tua–Herbert I should be a blast.