The Tennessee Titans’ game with the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for this Sunday has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Titans. Currently there are five players and six staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and the facility is closed for in-person activities until further notice. Nobody is pleased with how everything has played out, but the fact of the matter is that the Titans will have a bye this week.
While Titans’ fans and fantasy owners across the country are disappointed with the game being rescheduled for safety reasons, there are some serious upsides, especially for the Titans.
But first, let’s get the negatives out of the way.
A Week 4 bye means that the Titans will likely have to play 13 consecutive regular season games before the playoffs begin. That is less than ideal for head coach Mike Vrabel and the rest of the team. What makes matters worse is that with the expanded playoff field, only one team in each conference will be awarded a first-round bye in the postseason.
Mike Vrable on #Titans possibly playing 13 consecutive games: I was a part of a team in 2001 that after the 9/11 incident played 14 straight games and won the Super Bowl that year.
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) October 1, 2020
Now, on to the positives.
An extra week to get healthy serves the Titans well. Key players, such as A.J. Brown (knee), Adoree Jackson (knee) and, most recently, Taylor Lewan (shoulder), were all expected to miss Sunday’s contest versus the Steelers. With two weeks before the Titans host the Buffalo Bills in Week 5, it is not out of the question that at least two of the three are able to return to action.
From a pure football perspective, moving weeks may help the #Titans. Star WR AJ Brown (bone bruise) had a chance to play this week, but will play in Week 5 and moving forward. Barring something new, he’ll be available vs. the #Steelers whenever they play.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2020
With quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills traveling to Nashville next week, Vrabel and the team will have 9-10 days to prepare for a team that the Titans have not beaten since October 21, 2012. Now, the two teams have only met three times since the Titans’ last win in the series, but it is no secret that the Bills have been a thorn in the Tennessee’s side over the last two seasons. Each of the last five meetings between the two teams have been decided by seven points or less, so the extra time to prepare could come in handy, especially considering the way Allen is lighting the league on fire, with a 71% completion percentage and 10 touchdowns.
There is some silver lining to the game getting cancelled. This unexpected bye gives Lewan, Brown, and Adoree more time to heal. This also gives us a long week to prep for the Bills #Titans
— SportsTalkNSH (@SportsTalkNSH) October 1, 2020
There has been no announcement on when the NFL is planning for the Titans and Steelers to make the game up just yet, but let’s assume it will take place around the rumored Week 7 date, when the Titans’ initial bye week is scheduled. Instead of opening a three-game homestand with Pittsburgh, the Titans would close out the stretch with the Steelers after having played the Bills and the Houston Texans inside the friendly confines of Nissan Stadium.
What happens in between now and Week 7 is certainly a mystery as each week of 2020 seems to hold a different surprise for NFL fans. The Titans are the first team to fall to the COVID-19 quarantine protocol, but surely they won’t be the last. But in a year where there are practically no sure things, would anybody be surprised if the Steelers’ 38-year-old QB, Ben Roethlisberger, entered the matchup a little banged up? After all, mid- to late-season football is synonymous with Roethlisberger’s walking boot.
Featured image courtesy of AP Photo/Justin Edmonds