Despite the coronavirus outbreaks in both teams in recent days, the Ravens-Steelers game is still relevant on Tuesday night – for now.
Baltimore saw two other members of its team test positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, including tight end Pro Bowl and type 1 diabetic Mark Andrews, ESPN reported on Sunday.
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This brought the team’s total to at least 11 players and 10 staff who recently contracted the virus. Twenty players have been added to the reserve / COVID roster in recent days.
While it was the Baltimore outbreak that led to the Ravens-Steelers game, initially slated for prime time on Thanksgiving, that was postponed, the Steelers also faced COVID concerns.
Star running back and cancer survivor James Conner tested positive for the virus on Saturday, in addition to special teams coordinator Danny Smith. The cases came to light after the team a day earlier put three players on the reserve / COVID roster.
While there have been several postponements, the NFL has yet to cancel a game in the first 12 weeks of the season. The league is reportedly discussing a plan of action if the Steelers-Ravens game is canceled. Since both teams have already had their weeks off, the NFL could institute a Week 18 scenario if the game could have an impact on the playoffs.
NFL owners also approved a contingency plan this month that would expand the playoffs from 14 to 16 teams, if games that could impact the playoffs were called off.
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That could potentially help Baltimore, who is 6-4 and on the bubble for a playoff spot. Pittsburgh is 10-0 and is essentially locked in the playoffs.
The expanded playoffs would have eight teams from each conference, with four division champions and four wild-card teams in each conference.
There would be no teams with a first-round bye, where the pairs would be 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, and 4v5 in each conference.