The N.F.L. has rescheduled Monday’s game between the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots to next week, and reshuffled several other games on the league’s cluttered schedule to accommodate a rash of positive tests for the coronavirus.
The Broncos and Patriots, whose game had already been moved to Monday from Sunday afternoon, will now play next Sunday (the original Monday night matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints was not affected). To fit in the Broncos-Patriots game, the league had to move seven other games involving four other teams — the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the Jets.
The cascade of rescheduled games reflected the league’s struggle to keep to its original 17-week regular season. The N.F.L. wants to avoid having to add an 18th week, which would delay the start of the playoffs.
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To squeeze in the Broncos-Patriots matchup next Sunday, the league said the Broncos-Dolphins game that was set for next weekend was moved to later in the schedule, Week 11.
The Jets game against the Dolphins in Week 10 will be played next Sunday, during Week 6. The Jets game in Los Angeles against the Chargers, originally scheduled for next Sunday, will now be played in Week 11, on Sunday, Nov. 22.
The Chargers, who currently have no positive cases, had their calendar rewritten dramatically. The Chargers game against the Jaguars was moved from Week 8 to Week 7, on Sunday, Oct. 25. The Chargers-Broncos game was moved from Week 11 to Week 8 on Sunday, Nov. 1. And the Chargers game in Miami against the Dolphins was shifted to from Week 7 to Week 10 on Sunday, Nov. 15.
The league also said the Kansas City Chiefs game in Buffalo against the Bills in Week 6 would move to Monday, Oct. 19, from Thursday, Oct. 15, to give the Bills — who had their game against the Tennessee Titans shifted to Tuesday — more time to recuperate.
Players have started to grumble about all the adjustments. Melvin Gordon, the star running back on the Broncos, voiced his disappointment on Sunday after his team was told to take the weekend off.
“Ain’t no way we practiced all week and they canceled our game,” he wrote on Twitter.
On Saturday, Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty questioned whether player safety is the goal of the league’s protocols to mitigate the risk from the virus. He wondered why the Patriots were forced to fly to Kansas City the day of their game against the Chiefs last Monday when their quarterback, Cam Newton, had tested positive just three days before.
The league office and players union “don’t care,” McCourty told reporters. “For them, it is not about our best interest, or our health and safety, it is about, ‘What can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good, and how can we go out there and play games?’”
The league had already rescheduled the Broncos-Patriots game to Monday from Sunday — for the second straight week — after Stephon Gilmore, the team’s star defensive back, tested positive. The team returned to practice Saturday, but another positive test result on Sunday forced the league to act before the Broncos left Denver for Foxborough, Mass.
Because this week will now serve as the only bye for the Broncos and Patriots, there were no other openings on their schedule. That prompted even more juggling by the N.F.L.
The Patriots were originally scheduled for a bye in Week 6, and the Broncos in Week 8.
The Titans, who have been grappling with the biggest outbreak in the league, shut down their team facility on Sunday after another staff member tested positive, according to the NFL Network, throwing in doubt the team’s game against the Buffalo Bills, already changed to Tuesday.
The Titans have reported two dozen positive cases among players, coaches and staff members in the past several weeks. The league has already rescheduled the Titans-Steelers game to Oct. 25.
The N.F.L. recently told teams they would risk severe penalties, including stiff fines, the loss of draft picks and potentially the forfeiture of games, if they did not follow its safety protocols.