The NFL has moved Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins to Week 11, when the teams were scheduled to share a bye week, due to concerns about the potential impact of Hurricane Irma.
The Bucs confirmed the news on their Twitter account:
Jon Erdman of the Weather Channel reported the path of Hurricane Irma, which intensified into a Category 5 storm in the Atlantic Ocean, remains unsettled. While some projections have it staying east of Florida, others suggest it could make a direct impact on the Miami area over the weekend and into Monday.
"If Irma's center tracks toward the center of the forecast path this weekend, an intense eyewall strike on South Florida would occur, with potentially devastating, destructive winds, in addition to life-threatening storm surge flooding and torrential rainfall," Erdman wrote.
Although safety of the players, their families and residents is the most important factor, the scheduling decision will force both the Dolphins and Bucs to play 16 consecutive weeks due to the sudden "bye week."
In addition, Miami must now open the regular season with road games against the Los Angeles Chargers (Sept. 17) and New York Jets (Sept. 24) before taking on the New Orleans Saints Oct. 1 in a "home game" at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
They won't play their first game at Hard Rock Stadium until Oct. 8 when they take on the Tennessee Titans.
On Tuesday, Barry Jackson and Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald provided comments about the situation from quarterback Jay Cutler, who lamented the possibility of a lost bye week.
"It would be tough," he said. "It would be tough. Guys kind of need that bye week to get healthy and push through the second half of the season. This is the latest bye week I ever had. It's not an ideal situation not to have a bye for us."
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay will now play its first game of the regular season Sept. 17 when it welcomes the Chicago Bears to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Playing Miami in Week 11 will also create a stretch of three straight road games for the Bucs, with trips to Atlanta and Green Bay to follow the Dolphins game.