It is something we dare not joke about, and it certainly isn’t something we want to talk about. However, it is a real possibility, as we have seen during the short time MLB has been underway. The 2020 NFL season may start, but there is a very real chance a game is canceled this season.
You would think they would just move it to a bye week if there were a coronavirus outbreak. But if both teams do not have the same bye week, they may have to cancel it. It’s a worst-case scenario, but it is one that could very well happen.
That also means it is something fans can bet on, if they so choose (odds via MyBookie.ag):
Odds On 1st Team To Have A Home Game Cancelled 2020/21 Season
- Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Charger +600
- San Francisco 49ers +1000
- Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys +1200
- Houston Texans +1500
- New York Giants, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons +1600
- Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals +1800
- Any Other Team +1800
- No Games Cancelled in 20/21 Season +700
- 20/21 Season Cancelled +400
The league has expanded practice squads this year and relaxed some of the rules to help teams deal with a potential outbreak. But if a team were to get hit as hard as the Miami Marlins, it may be unrealistic to think a team would have to play with half the roster made up of practice squad guys.
Should a team in such a predicament be facing a team at full strength, it would not be safe. So, the possibility of a game getting canceled is real. But how do we predict which team could see a home game canceled first?
There have been 21 positive tests since players started reporting to camp (since July 28, according to the NFLPA). That many on one team could be enough to see a game canceled, but we are talking about the entire league.
As part of the analysis, we cannot just look at the concentration of cases per NFL market. The visiting team could get hit with an outbreak, resulting in someone’s home game getting canceled.
According to a chart on the NFLPA’s site, the worst NFL metropolitan concentrations (where the home stadium is located) are in Miami, Las Vegas, Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, New Orleans, Houston, and Atlanta. The Jets/Giants are the lowest, followed by the Bills, Patriots, Seahawks, and Lions.
However, while that could be considered relevant, it only is if most players are being cavalier about the coronavirus and not following any safety protocols.
So—how should you bet?
The league does not want to lose any money at all if it can avoid it. That means not canceling any games if doing so can be avoided. While players do not like being told what to do, they like their cash cow being disrupted even less.
A few guys may try to test the waters, but most guys will likely do what they can to protect the season. Should a team get with an outbreak, well—we might see Shane Falco trot onto the field. The game may be ugly, but it will have been played.
Take ‘No games canceled’ and enjoy the +700 payout. But throw a few bucks on ‘season canceled,’ too. The league is more likely to go as far as they can no matter the cost and then pulling the plug altogether should things get out of hand.