The New England Patriots were scheduled to take on the Denver Broncos today at 1 pm. Then, the game was moved to 4:25. With cornerback Stephon Gilmore testing positive for the Coronavirus on Tuesday, it was rescheduled again to Monday at 5 pm. Now, after defensive tackle Byron Cowart has tested positive as well, the game has been moved again by the NFL: Patriots versus Broncos will now take place next Sunday, according to reports.
While the move itself has not yet been made official by the league, the postponement was already announced. But what does this mean for the Patriots? Let’s find out.
The Patriots’ bye week is now...
New England not playing a game this weekend essentially moves the team’s bye week from Week 6 to Week 5. This means that the team will end the regular season with 12 straight games. While this is obviously not an ideal situation to be in, it a) becomes necessary after Cowart’s positive test, and b) is not an unprecedented one for the Patriots: the team also had a bye after just four games in 2010; in 2015, the team even had a Week 4 bye.
New England might get some real on-field preparation done for next week
Once Stephon Gilmore tested positive on Tuesday, the Patriots were forced to move preparation for the game against Denver to a virtual forum: the team’s facilities at Gillette Stadium remained closed for three days — Wednesday through Friday — before the team returned on Saturday for a light practice session that would have been followed by a walkthrough on Sunday. That walkthrough, obviously was now canceled.
Speaking strictly in terms of getting ready for an upcoming opponent, moving the Broncos game to next week allows the team to possibly get some real on-field work done after a week like this. Of course, this is not a given — there is no guarantee that other players do not also test positive in the coming days — but it at least gives the team the theoretical option to get some on-field practices done before heading into its next game.
There is more time to get the Covid-19 outbreak under control
The most important part of the postponement is that it gives the Patriots and the NFL something they did not yet have by the league’s own design: time to combat the Coronavirus that first arrived in the organization when quarterback Cam Newton tested positive last Friday. Despite Newton’s positive test, after all, the team’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs was played — one day later than originally planned, but the Patriots still had to travel to Missouri to take on the defending world champions.
Gilmore and Cowart were on one or both of the planes and the field that day, and they have now both tested positive four days apart. Pushing the game against the Broncos back at least eliminates another possible spreader event both in New England and Denver, while the team has more time to isolate its players and assess the upcoming developments.
Cam Newton, Stephon Gilmore have better odds to play against Denver
Some good news that are coming out of the postponement is that the Patriots might get two of their most valuable players back in time to take on the Broncos: Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore — given they don’t develop any Coronavirus symptoms in the coming hours or days — might be cleared to return to the field next Sunday. This would obviously be good news for the two from a personal perspective, but also for a team trying to improve its record to 3-2 on the season.