Could the NFL possibly operate in a bubble? It seems pretty far-fetched for the league to emulate the “bubble” scenario that has become quite popular among North American sports leagues like the NHL, MLS and NBA. The NFL has a much, much larger roster in addition to coaches, front office executives, other personnel.
However, the NFL “bubble” scenario might be viable if done between each division. Among the four teams from each division, there may be one city best suited to house their own bubble for games to continue. Let’s decide which team is best-equipped to host the bubble for their respective divisional group.
AFC East: Buffalo, New York
New York was initially one of the states hit hardest by the “coronavirus” pandemic. However, the “Empire State” has since gotten things under control quite a bit. With the NFC East occupying East Rutherford, New Jersey, it would only be right for the AFC East to call Buffalo, New York home. The New England Patriots, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and of course the Buffalo Bills would play its games solely at New Era Field. This would keep the Jets, Patriots and Bills in the Northeast. The Dolphins meanwhile would make their way out of South Florida, one of the COVID-19 hot-spots.
NFC East: East Rutherford, NY
Because the AFC East will utilize Buffalo, the next best market would definitely be East Rutherford, New Jersey. This one is arguably the safest of all of the scenarios here. The New York Giants would play host to the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. As a result of this “bubble” site, this quartet of arch nemeses would play all of its football at MetLife Stadium.
AFC North: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Having an NFL bubble in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania keeps things in the Northeast. That area remains the safest part of the country at the moment, making it the ideal spot for this division. The always competitive AFC North division will make its way to the “Steel City” with the Pittsburgh Steelers playing host to the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Heinz Field would serve as the main site for the AFC North “bubble”. Additionally, the surrounding collegiate options could serve as useful practice sites as well.
NFC North: Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois would be an ideal landing spot for a NFC North hub. This group consists of the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. It is worth noting that the city of Chicago was one of the finalists to host the NHL’s “bubble,” a league that ultimately chose to take itself north of the border to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Solider Field would serve as the sole location for this endeavor. Nearby institutions such as Northwestern University could be utilized in nearby Evanston, Illinois as well.
AFC South: Washington D.C.
As it stands, the homes of the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars wouldn’t really serve as appropriate “bubble” sites. Both Tennessee and Florida remain near the top of the list in terms of “coronavirus” cases in the United States. On the other hand, both the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts play indoors, which isn’t ideal either. This is especially true given that the former also resides in the middle of a major hot-spot. Thus, one of the non-utilized sites along the Atlantic Ocean could come into play here. FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Football Team, would house the four AFC South franchises. This could at least keep all four within some relative distance to home.
NFC South: Baltimore, Maryland
Similar to that of the AFC South, the NFC South could occupy a vacant AFC North location in Baltimore, Maryland. The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints both play indoors, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers not really in the best possible locations for a potential “bubble.’ While the Baltimore Ravens play in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the rest of the AFC North, the NFC South wouldn’t have to travel all that far to get to M&T Bank Stadium.
AFC West: Kansas City, Missouri
It would be hard to not allow the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs host the AFC West “bubble”. This places the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos at their famed Arrowhead Stadium. With several other major cities not too far off from Kansas City, in addition to some potential collegiate stadiums in the area, Missouri could serve as a viable option for both the Chiefs and AFC West as a whole. It would be tough for these four franchises to travel all the way to the East Coast as Kansas City would be a huge compromise.
NFC West: Salt Lake City, Utah
Perhaps the most interesting choice of the bunch, Salt Lake City, Utah would host the NFC West division. This group is comprised of the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. The Rams and 49ers would be able to leave California while the Cardinals would be able to run for the hills as Arizona remains one of the largest hot-spots in the country. Similarly to the AFC West, utilizing Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City wouldn’t require any of these four teams to travel too far. But this would also allow all four out of harms way in their respective states. The home of the University of Utah Utes, a major Pac-12 collegiate program, would be more than suitable NFL bubble location for these franchises.