Broncos vs. Patriots Rescheduled; NE's Facility Reportedly Closed Amid COVID

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2020

FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton runs against the Las Vegas Raiders during an NFL football game at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. For the second straight week the New England Patriots are heading into a game after having their preparations disrupted by a teammate contracting coronavirus.  Last week it was Cam Newton, who tested positive two days before their matchup with Kansas City and was forced to sit out.(AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The NFL shut down the New England Patriots' practice facility Sunday and will move Monday's scheduled game against the Denver Broncos to a future date following the team's fourth positive COVID-19 test in the past eight days. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the game will be held next Sunday, with a contest between the Miami Dolphins and Broncos being rescheduled. The Patriots were originally scheduled to be on bye in Week 6.

Aside from ones in New England and Tennessee, the NFL had no other positive tests for Week 5, per Schefter

The Patriots worked remotely Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Cam Newton, Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackle Bill Murray are on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Broncos-Patriots game had already been pushed back from Sunday to Monday.

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The Broncos' original bye was Week 8 and the Dolphins are slated for a Week 11 bye, so there is no natural place in the schedule to move the game. It's likely the league would reconfigure the schedule of both teams, along with a couple of opponents, similar to how it did with last week's Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game.

After opening the regular season with three straight weeks of mostly normal football, the NFL has been scrambling in Weeks 4 and 5 amid outbreaks. The positive tests have cast further negative light on the NFL's plan to essentially move forward without tangible backup plans in place.

The league could have baked extra bye weeks into the schedule to account for the potential of delayed games but chose a standard 17-week slate. The NFL also could have pushed more for hard bubbles, which have proved safe for several other pro sports leagues that have returned. While there are logistical issues inherent to a bubble idea—the NFL likely would have needed regional bubbles, rather than one large bubble, because of the number of people teams employ—it would have been safer and led to less chaos.

As it stands, the NFL is having to scramble every week, all while leaving teams in a state of uncertainty about their status within a day of a scheduled game.