Through six weeks of the season, 10 teams have one win or fewer. While some of those teams are destined to win more games when they play each other (two of the one-win franchises square off tonight), multiple teams could soon be slipping out of contention, even with seven teams per conference in the postseason field.
When that happens, the NFL will be faced with another reality in the ever-shifting COVID-19 cluster of concerns. With the playoffs out of the question and the season reduced to an exercise in playing out the string, some players, coaches, and other team personnel may become more complacent about complying with protocols when in the building and avoiding infections when out of it.
Players have a huge incentive to continue to dot every “i” and cross every “t”; if games are canceled or suspended, they don’t get paid. Others in the organization actually make have less to lose if games don’t happen, and thus they could be more inclined to become complacent once the games no longer count.
The NFL, as one source told PFT several weeks ago, is concerned about what will happen as teams fade from contention. With so many bad teams this year, that could be happening sooner than later. In those cities, the league and the local franchise may need to take even more aggressive steps to ensure that everyone continues to do everything that needs to be done, once the ultimate prize for compliance is no longer on the table.