COVID-19 Among Reasons for NFL Uncertainty at Sportsbooks

Posted on: October 7, 2020, 09:22h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2020, 10:08h.

There are 15 games on the NFL’s Week 5 schedule. As of Wednesday morning, only 10 of those were on the board at PointsBet because of an increasing number of positive COVID-19 tests and other uncertainties.

New England Patriots Stephon Gilmore
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) played every snap at Kansas City on Monday but has tested positive for COVID-19. (Image: Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)

The big news to start the day was New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore testing positive. What’s especially concerning is the news came on the heels of Patriots quarterback Cam Newton testing positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

Newton’s positive test forced the NFL to postpone Sunday’s game at the Kansas City Chiefs. When no other members of the Patriots tested positive, that game was played on Monday night. The Chiefs won 26-10.

Gilmore, who won last year’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year, played every snap against the Chiefs.

COVID Questions

Uncertainty because of COVID and other reasons has thrown the start of the betting week into a bit of disarray.

The main issue is accepting large bets early in the week,” Jason Scott, BetMGM’s vice president of trading, told “I had a guy that wanted to bet $1 million on Seattle at -6.5 last Wednesday. Like you, I’m cynical, and my first thought is, ‘Who from Miami has COVID?’”

The Patriots are scheduled to host the Denver Broncos on Sunday. However, with Gilmore’s positive test, the Patriots’ facility closed on Wednesday. Wednesday is the first day teams work on the game plan on the practice field. With the league closely monitoring the rest of the week’s COVID test results, that game is off the board at most sportsbooks.

Betting on the Las Vegas Raiders’ game at Kansas City was suspended at PointsBet and a few other sportsbooks because of concerns with both teams. The Raiders had one player test positive, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, according to ESPN.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs played the Patriots on Monday night, so there will be added scrutiny of their COVID tests this week. After the game, Gilmore had an up-close conversation with the Chiefs’ star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, raising concerns over the health of the NFL’s 2018 MVP.

Also off the board is the Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans game. Tennessee’s game last week against Pittsburgh was not played after 18 positive tests among Titans players and personnel. There were two more positive tests in Tennessee on Wednesday, meaning its facility will remain closed and the fate of that game is in question.

Compounding matters is the Titans already used their bye to accommodate a rescheduling of the game against Pittsburgh. If Bills-Titans can’t be played this week, it raises the possibility that both teams could play only 15 games this year, a Titans forfeit, or the NFL might need to create the 18th week on the schedule. has the odds of a Week 18 at +250 for yes and -425 for no.

More Than COVID

That the NFL is wrestling with COVID isn’t a surprise. That was the expectation from everyone, whether it was Commissioner Roger Goodell or people like BetMGM’s Scott. However, the impact on the number of tickets at sportsbooks has been negligible.

I’m much more negative early in the week,” Scott said to “Come gameday, we are not seeing any change. In fact, Week 4 was our largest handle of the season and the week in which we wrote the most bets.”

On Monday night, the Los Angeles Chargers are scheduled to play at the New Orleans Saints. However, with Hurricane Delta being the latest major storm to take aim at the city – it has a projected landfall of Friday night or Saturday morning – there’s a possibility the game could be played in Indianapolis, according to reports.

The Saints are considering flying from New Orleans to Indianapolis following Thursday’s practice. In college football, LSU’s scheduled home game against Missouri instead will be played at Missouri.

The Saints are 7.5-point favorites at just about all sportsbooks.

The Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers game is off the board at most sportsbooks, as well, though it has nothing to do with a pandemic or weather. Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could return after missing the last two games with a high-ankle sprain.