NFL Playoffs With Minimal Impact from COVID

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The ultimate disaster would be to have the starting QB of a Super Bowl team test positive and miss the big game. That will not happen as the NFL and its teams will make sure of that with the work arounds they have enacted in conjunction with the NFLPA. This is not a “COVID is just a cold” piece, rather analysis as to the availability of players based on the current league rules.

There is no more mandatory league wide testing for COVID and this will help the NFL get thru the playoffs. Better than other leagues, profession football has powered its way thru two COVID seasons now.

Here is why I have the expectation that COVID will have a minimal effect on the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. The NFL seems to have figure out how to deal with the protocols which were agreed upon with the players union.

We talked about how the Eagles had figured out how to game the system to allow for extended rest for their players in what amounted to a bye week. Philadelphia was giving the game to Dallas (dominated and won by 25) and now they are well rested as they take on the defending champion Buccaneers.

To take a page out of that book, the Titans and Packers with a bye week should and likely will encourage all vaccinated players to volunteer to be tested today. If there is a positive, they consequence would be to only miss five days this week and still return for full practice leading up to the Divisional Round game when the opponent is know. The other upside is anyone who tests positive will carry an exemption thru the rest of the playoffs.

Yes, the unvaccinated will still test daily and that is the major worry. See Kirk Cousins with a late season late week add to the COVID list and missed a game. The Bills might want to be careful with Josh Allen as he may be subject to this daily unvaccinated testing still; however, 4/5ths of Buffalo’s starting offensive line are exempt. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are in the clear as they have a 90 day exemption from testing after their positives as are Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Joe Mixon among hundreds of others.

The targeted position group testing is only on Mondays and even if positive, will not have players missing games, just the practices during the week given the five day quarantine. Yes, there is supposed to be symptomatic testing but it will be the rare player that raises his hand during playoffs to report symptoms. Right or wrong, they would be more likely to self-isolate and keep quiet.

I am not suggesting a COVID party and if anyone is, I would be strongly opposed to that The teams are just taking advantage of the NFL and NFLPA agreed upon rules to put them in a better position to win.

This is why, the NFL will not have cancelled games or big disruptions for the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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