COVID-19 is continuing to wreak havoc on the NFL

Create: 2020-11-05
Update: 2020-11-05
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Thursday, November 5, 2020
It's Shanna McCarriston here with another newsletter for you on this Thursday morning. I hope you all got more than three hours of sleep the past two days and are feeling well this a.m.
On the schedule today we have NFL COVID-19 news and playoff predictions from our very own NFL experts. If you're feeling confident about an NFC East prediction, send me your hot takes and best guesses on Twitter. Bragging rights to anyone who gets it right.
We are also diving into MLB free agency and rounding up Champions league matches from Wednesday.
Let's jump right in.
📰 What you need to know
1. COVID-19 continues to affect the NFL 🏈
Tonight's matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers is still on. As of yesterday, it seemed that the game could be postponed due to the latest COVID-19 results out of San Fran. The team was forced to shut down their facilities following the positive tests. 
The Niners said the player who tested positive immediately went into self-quarantine and added that they are "are working with the league on contact tracing to identify high risk individuals" and they have entered the league's protocol.
Meanwhile, the Packers have their own COVID-19 news entering the TNF game: Green Bay running back A.J. Dillon tested positive earlier in the week.
Flash forward to the morning, and those teams are not the only ones with recent coronavirus updates. :
  • In breaking news that just came in within the hour, the Texans closed team facilities on Thursday morning after a player tested positive for COVID-19
  • On Wednesday, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was placed on  the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. His wife later confirmed Stafford had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, but did not have a positive test
The NFL has so far handled moving the schedule around the season on a case by case basis. But you have to wonder what the league will be able to do if these COVID-19 updates -- multiple teams being affected in a 48-hour span after a Sunday-- continue. We will wait and see.
2. Midseason NFL predictions 🏈
The NFL regular season is halfway done so naturally our CBS Sports crew put together a new round of predictions for how they expect the standings will look as we inch closer to the playoffs. 
While our NFL experts have their disagreements on some of the division winners and losers, there was one thing they all agreed on: the Jets. Everyone had the Jets finishing in the basement of AFC East, which should come as no surprise. The panel also agreed that:
  • The Browns and Bengals would finish third and fourth in the AFC North, respectively
  • The Texans and Jaguars would finish third and fourth in the AFC South, respectively.
  • The Chiefs will take the AFC West
  • The Packers will win the NFC North
  • Not everyone had the Bills, Steelers, Ravens, Buccaneers and Saints winning their divisions, but they all agreed those five teams will be punching a ticket to the playoffs
In the major toss-up/embarrassing division that is the NFC East, our experts couldn't agree, with three different teams listed as winners. Check out our full predictions here.
3. Top MLB offseason trade candidates ⚾
It's been one week since we wrapped up the drama-filled MLB season, and since then it has been pretty quiet. Usually the top free agents don't sign until later into the winter, so it's no shock nothing has happened this early.
Next season, payroll is expected to decrease, meaning teams could change their free agency approach. We will likely be seeing a trend of teams looking to trade prospects for a cheaper big leaguer rather than big contracts being handed out to free agents. There are many free agents to keep track of, so to make it easier to keep up with, our very own Mike Axisa created a list of MLB's top offseason trade candidates.
Here's his top ten:
  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Josh Hader
  4. Lance Lynn
  5. Blake Snell
  6. Eduardo Escobar
  7. Nolan Arenado
  8. Kyle Seager
  9. Amed Rosario
  10. J.D. Martinez
As you can see, all of the players listed are relatively household names that would make a big impact if moved. Sit tight.
4. Champions League recap: Group stage halfway done ⚽
Matchday 3 is officially done, indicating the halfway mark of Champions League group stage.
The latest slate of action on Wednesday saw an upset, with Istanbul Basaksehir defeating Manchester United, 2-1. Juventus, Chelsea and Barcelona also recorded wins on the day and PSG were knocked off by Red Bull Leipzig.
If you missed any of the action, we have a big recap here. Below are the scores.
  • Istanbul Basaksehir 2, Manchester United 1 
  • Zenit 1, Lazio 1
  • Barcelona 2, Dynamo Kiev 1
  • Juventus 4, Ferencvaros 1
  • Borussia Dortmund 3, Club Brugge 0
  • Sevilla 3, Krasnador 2
  • Chelsea 3, Rennes 0
  • RB Leipzig 2, PSG 1
📝 Odds & Ends
  • With the Steelers undefeated, here's a deep dive on the other 39 teams that started 7-0 in Super Bowl era
  • Antonio Brown opens up about his second chance with Buccaneers and his relationship with Tom Brady 
  • An updated look at the states where sports betting is legal
📺 What to watch today
🏈 Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m. | SF +7 | TV: NFL Network
⚽ No. 11 Miami (FL) vs. NC State | NC State +10.5 | TV: ESPN
⚽ No. 9 BYU vs. No. 21 Boise State | Boise +3 | TV: FS1
📝 Top scores from last night
🏈 Kent State 27, Eastern Michigan 23
Kent State took an early lead and kept it the entire game to beat Eastern Michigan.
⚽ Istanbul Basaksehir 2, Manchester United 1
Istanbul Basaksehir pulled off an upset over Manchester United thanks to goals from Demba Ba and Edin Visca.
⚽ Livepool 5, Atalanta 0
Diogo Jota netted a hat-trick in the shutout.

⚽ RB Leipzig 2, Paris Saint-Germain 1
RB Leipzig picked up three points in Champions League Group H with Wednesday's win.
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