BOSTON (CBS) — When the 2020 NFL schedule was released, it seemed as though the schedule-makers did the Patriots a solid by scheduling their two games in Los Angeles just four days apart. With a Sunday game against the Chargers and a Thursday night meeting with the Rams in the same building, the plans wrote themselves for the Patriots to stay out in California for a week to limit travel and make life easy.
Alas, such a plan may not be allowed by the NFL. But also … it might?
Obviously, the coronavirus situation has a lot of things up in the air, but one of those things — according to NBC Sports’ Peter King — involves limiting teams that hoped or planned to stay on the road for two straight games. Such planning is helpful for situations like the Patriots’ in December, and King noted that eight teams have similar situations — albeit without the Thursday scheduling.
King said that if teams want to stay on the road between two games, they’ll have to file a plan, and the league won’t be eager to approve them.
“The eight teams that have such back-to-backs will probably have to file ‘IDER plans,’ which stands for infectious disease emergency response. These are detailed travel and sequestering plans that the league and the union will need to approve before a team is able to stay on the road for that length of time,” King wrote. “I’m told the league is going to strongly urge teams not to stay on the road that long, despite the inconvenience for the teams involved.”
While the league will “strongly urge” teams to not stay on the road for upwards of 10 days, King said the league may have a tough time making the case that the Patriots would be better off making four coast-to-coast flights in a six-day span.
“The one back-to-back the NFL will likely have to bend on is New England’s pair of games at So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles on Dec. 6 and 10,” King said. “The Pats will play the Chargers on Sunday, then the Rams on Thursday night. Returning home between those would be borderline crazy. (Home at 6 a.m. Monday in Massachusetts, return Wednesday mid-day for a 6 p.m. PT arrival. Nuts.)”
Another complication that could affect the Patriots (to a lesser degree than teams located in the Pacific time zone) would be the NFL not allowing teams to travel on Friday for games on Sundays. King said such a rule is “likely” to be put into place. In addition to the aforementioned trip to Los Angeles, the Patriots travel to Seattle in Week 2 and may have desired a Friday departure to help get acclimated.
Such a rule could work the other way, as well, as the Patriots have home games against the 49ers and Raiders in addition to two games against teams from the Mountain time zone (Denver, Arizona).