The NFL showed on Sunday that if a team can play, it will play regardless of the lineup it has to offer.
The Denver Broncos played on Sunday without a true quarterback. All of their QBs were ruled ineligible due to positive COVID-19 tests or close contacts. The team didn’t have an ongoing outbreak, so it played. Using practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton at QB, the Broncos completed one pass in a 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The Baltimore Ravens are just going to have to figure it out, too.
The Ravens are scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday afternoon, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app. They have had an outbreak that has affected just about every position group. On Monday, the NFL told them to delay a morning practice until the evening as it tried to get control of the situation.
But if the Ravens can play, they’re going to play. Regardless of who’s in their lineup.
Ravens have several players on reserve list
The NFL has been criticized for lack of consistency when it comes to game postponements, but there is a common thread it has followed. If a team has an outbreak under control with no new positive tests, it will play regardless of how decimated its lineup is.
The San Francisco 49ers played the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 5 despite multiple players being ruled out. They lost 34-17. The New England Patriots played a game without quarterback Cam Newton, who was on the reserve/COVID-19 list, at the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this season. The Broncos had no chance Sunday. We knew before this weird season that some teams were going to catch unlucky breaks that put them at a significant competitive disadvantage.
As of Sunday, the Ravens had many players on both sides of the ball on their reserve/COVID-19 list, including just about the entire starting offense. That includes reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
Ravens' updated COVID list:
QB: Jackson, McSorley
RB: Ingram, Dobbins
OL: Skura, Mekari, Fluker, Holden
DL: Campbell, Williams, Madubuike, Ward, Washington
OLB: Judon, McPhee, Ferguson
CB: Marshall (IR), Dorsey (IR), Young (IR)
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) November 29, 2020
And as they’re dealing with the personnel losses and lack of practice time, they’ll be figuring out a way to beat the 10-0 Steelers on the road.
Ravens battling for a wild-card spot
The Ravens are in a fight for a playoff spot. They have lost three of four and are 6-4 in a competitive AFC. If they lose to the Steelers on Tuesday, they will have little margin for error the rest of the season.
Of course, Baltimore had a breach of protocols that might have contributed to its current mess. The team disciplined a strength coach for what NFL Network reported was a failure to report symptoms or consistently wear a mask or tracking device.
The Broncos had a quarterback test positive for COVID-19, and the rest of them were not allowed to play due to contact tracing when it was found they were not wearing masks while watching film together last Tuesday. It’s not like the Broncos or Ravens didn’t deserve any blame for their situations.
If Wednesday’s game happens as scheduled, the Ravens will have a tough time competing with the last undefeated team in the league. But they’ll have to do their best.
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