The Patriots and Chiefs are targeting Monday night instead of Tuesday following Cam Newton’s positive test.
Count the Patriots among the NFL teams that are stuck in limbo right now, turning “out of an abundance of caution” into a league-wide motto.
Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test rocked the football world on Saturday morning, interrupting a news cycle centered around, uh, a different positive test, and finally changing the narrative among most casual fans.
All week long, the league monitored a potential outbreak among the Titans in Tennessee, then was forced to look in the mirror and acknowledge that they had a full-blown untenable situation on their hands, bumping the team’s game against the Steelers down the line.
Thus far, Newton’s positive test is the first major one centered around an iconic name-brand NFL figure, but it still remains (as of this writing) the only positive test on the New England roster. And so, with that in mind, both the Pats and Chiefs players are waiting, their efforts paused, with Monday still looking like the likely kickoff date, pending a new series of positives.
The second Newton’s test came back, the team’s travel was shuttered, and they dispersed to various locations. It goes without saying that, if this game does take place, it will be with Brian Hoyer under center — Jarrett Stidham remains third in the pecking order.
Of course, just because the league intends to play Monday does not make it so. They also thought the Steelers and Titans would be facing off on Monday before a constantly trickling list of positive tests in the Tennessee locker room derailed those plans. And there’s also an issue in Kansas City, of course — scout team QB Jordan Ta’amu, who spent the week mimicking Newton’s game plan, has also tested positive, and the contact tracing procedure is under way.
As of Sunday morning, the Patriots, at least, are living out a best-case scenario in the wake of the initial bombshell. Each player has now received two consecutive negative tests, and the game is set for 7:00 on Monday, bumping Packers-Falcons back to 8:50.
This will not be the last time a positive test crops up at the last minute prior to a Sunday face-off, and the league won’t have the same luxury of delaying games just a few days in every instance. That’s why some coaches are in favor of slicing the season down to 12 games while they formulate a bubble, like the NBA and NHL have done so successfully.
The NFL seems like too much a behemoth to occupy themselves with such a sacrifice of games and local markets, but the Newton positive combined with the Titans debacle could be a rather large canary in the coal mine.
In other words, we’ll believe a Monday kickoff when we see it.