NFL power rankings: COVID-19 might put an asterisk on this year’s playoffs

Detroit Free Press

Dan Campbell could not have been more right when he said “COVID and football don’t go together.” Only, they’ve teamed up far too often of late.

On Monday night, a Miami Dolphins team with nine players on the reserve/COVID-19 list beat a New Orleans Saints team with 16 players on the list.

Nearly a third of the Saints’ 53-man roster – they activated 14 players off their practice squad as COVID replacements – was out for a game that had major playoff implications.

DAVE BIRKETT: Lions have a brighter future than Bears and Vikings

The Saints entered Monday with the eighth-best record in a conference where the top seven teams make the playoffs, and left feeling like a longshot to qualify for the postseason. At 7-8, they are now 10th in the NFC standings, behind other 7-8 teams the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons based on the tiebreaker.

The Dolphins went from out of the playoffs to in based on those same tiebreaker rules, ahead of three other 8-7 teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, who lost quarterback Tyler Hundley to COVID the day before their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

According to figures compiled by NFL Network, 106 players went on the reserve/COVID list Monday, bringing the total number of COVID positives in December to 521. Nearly a quarter of all active NFL players (on 53-man rosters and practice squads) have tested positive for COVID this month, in a league that is more than 90% vaccinated and at a time when the NFL has scaled back its testing.

COVID has affected lives in much more serious ways than it is impacting sports right now, but the virus has hit our ballfields and arenas with more furor than it has at any point in the past 21 months. Last year, according to NFL Network, 428 players went on the reserve/COVID list the entire regular season.

I don’t know that this season needs an asterisk. The top 10 or so teams are largely the teams we’ve pegged as title contenders all year. But it might, depending on how long this surge keeps up.

This week’s power rankings

1. Green Bay Packers (12-3)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4)

4. Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

5. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

6. Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

7. Tennessee Titans (10-5)

8. Buffalo Bills (9-6)

9. New England Patriots (9-6)

10. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)

11. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

12. Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

13. San Francisco 49ers (8-7)

14. Miami Dolphins (8-7)

15. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

16. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7)

17. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)

19. Cleveland Browns (7-8)

20. New Orleans Saints (7-8)

21. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)

22. Denver Broncos (7-8)

23. Washington Football Team (6-9)

24. Atlanta Falcons (7-8)

25. Chicago Bears (5-10)

26. Seattle Seahawks (5-10)

27. Carolina Panthers (5-10)

28. New York Giants (4-11)

29. New York Jets (4-11)

30. Houston Texans (4-11)

31. Detroit Lions (2-12-1)

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13)

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

Articles You May Like

Open thread: Who is your favorite Lion to follow on social media?
NFC Notes: Jaire Alexander, Dan Campbell, Bears, Lions, Packers
Packers Claim K James Turner Off Waivers From Lions
Can you guys watch Terrion for us?? | Detroit Lions #shorts
4 Lions players that could easily be successful at different positions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *