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NFL makes COVID-19 bubble decision for playoffs

It’s an ix-nay on the ubble-bay.

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The NFL announced in a league-wide memo Tuesday that there will be no postseason bubble, and players and staff will not be required to stay in a hotel during the playoffs other than the night before the games.

The NFL and NFLPA agreed in a joint decision to forgo the bubble format for the playoffs, saying they are happy with the current COVID-19 testing numbers and health protocols, according to the memo, which was obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. They also believed there is an added risk of virus spread with every player staying in the same building.

“This decision is based upon an analysis of the frequency of positive cases in the league compared to the risk of significant spread among players and staff gathered for an extensive period of time at one hotel,” the memo said.

The NFL will still require players and staff to stay in a hotel the night before the playoff games.

The league voted on a contingency plan where they would create an eighth seed for the playoffs if the COVID-19 virus cancelled enough games. It appears they won’t have to enact that plan if the games continue to be played on schedule.

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While the NFL may believe the protocols are working, teams continue to place players on the COVID-19/reserve list on a weekly basis. This week, the Raiders will be without rookie WR Henry Ruggs in a game they absolutely must win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Buccaneers also put place kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long snapper Zach Triner on the reserve list on Tuesday.

The league was able to work around its two major outbreaks this season — the Titans and Ravens — with scheduling changes.

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