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How The NFL is Closing out a Crazy Year

This year has been something else! While we have all gone through some surprising times, what the National Football league has experienced is truly something else. From adapting a billion-dollar industry to new social distancing guidelines, to changing attitudes to protests, the NFL has had a banner year.

With the season (nearly) behind us, we stand on the cusp of the playoffs. Fans are getting excited about the big games, with bets on the NFL gaining even more attention. Let’s take a look at the highs and lows from the year while looking ahead to what we can expect from the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl LV.

Smith-Schuster” by Brook-Ward is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

What Has Been Different This Season

The NFL has gone through Herculean feats to bring together a massive sports league during a pandemic. These efforts have been nothing short of heroic. Athletes and staff are front-line workers for normalcy, and that they have managed to pull anything together is truly a miracle.

To put some of this into perspective: Just between August 1 and September 26, less than two months, the NFL administered more than 330,000 coronavirus tests to athletes and staff. Of those, only 58 came out positive. That is truly impressive and speaks to the extent that the league is working hard to protect its community.

However, as some teams have broken protocol, the safety measures fell a bit. In late September and early October, the Tennessee Titans had an outbreak. It was found that they were breaking explicit rules laid out by the league, so it is no wonder that something like this could happen if the rules were not followed.

The coronavirus at times seemed to have the league on the brink of collapse, but never being able to rip through the public health measures they put in place. Many teams played with their second, third, or even “no-string” players.

But through it all, they have been able to pull it together. It has required an unimaginable level of sportsmanship and sacrifice. And it has come from the players, staff, and the fans.

NFL Playoff Preview

It seems like just yesterday that we were excited to see midseason predictions. While the playoff picture was still blurry at that point, things have come into focus quite a bit now.

The first two teams to clinch a playoff spot were the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints. The Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, and Pittsburgh Steelers are nipping on their heels, as they all duke it out for the first-round bye.

The first-round bye will be crucial to future success. Instead of taking a hit and getting exhausted in some of the fiercest games, you get to relax, recover, and work on strategy. This is much bigger than just skipping a round in this single-elimination tournament.

The playoff format expanded this. Instead of 12, the league will be inviting 14 teams to move into the postseason. This is sure to shake up markets and keep more fans tuned in for longer. It will be an exciting January, leading up to Super Bowl LV.

An Unprecedented Super Bowl

All the final details of the restrictions in place at Super Bowl LV have not been released to the public. Judging by the severe limiting of stadium capacity thus far and all the strenuous testing and social distancing guidelines, we can be sure they will be extensive.

There are confirmed reports of limiting the stadium capacity to just 20% with masks being mandatory. Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium normally holds 75,000 spectators, so those going to the big game this year will be even fewer than normal.

It must be strange to play in the country’s most awaited sporting event in a nearly empty stadium. These are the types of situations that we are collectively facing this year.

Another security measure is to use credit cards instead of cash. That’s right, cash will not be accepted during the Super Bowl 2021. These are small measures that can really do a lot to make sure the event goes as smoothly as possible.