Many fans have been wondering why the Denver Broncos were forced to play without a quarterback in their Week 12 game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, while the Baltimore Ravens continued to have their game postponed. It’s a very good question, and it has a reasonable explanation.
The short answer is that the NFL believed the Broncos’ COVID situation was contained, while the Ravens’ was not.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter offered an explanation during “Monday Night Countdown.”
“It’s all about identification, isolation, and then containment of the virus. As long as the NFL feels like it has identified, isolated and contained the virus, it believes it can play the games,” Schefter said. “If it can’t identify, if it can’t isolate, and it can’t contain — as was the case in Baltimore — they’re going to continue to postpone the game. That’s why the Broncos-Saints game on Sunday was played. Because the league believed the virus was identified, isolated and contained in Denver, whereas it wasn’t in Baltimore. And that’s why that game keeps shifting.”
The decision to postpone or cancel a game is not based on competitive reasons. It's simply about containment of the virus.
The Broncos had one positive COVID-19 test, and that was for quarterback Jeff Driskel on Thursday. The league on Saturday ruled the team’s other three quarterbacks ineligible to play, as they were deemed high-risk contacts as a result. There were no other players deemed at high risk, nor other positive tests. Contrarily, the Ravens continued to have new positive COVID-19 tests trickle in each day, suggesting the virus had not been contained.
As far as the league is concerned, as long as they believe the virus is contained, then it becomes the team’s responsibility to field a roster. In that sense, losing a player to COVID is not too dissimilar to losing one to injury.
Remember, even though Baltimore’s game against Pittsburgh has been postponed from Thursday to Wednesday, they will still be playing without Lamar Jackson, though they may get some other key weapons back.