The league said the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals game will fill the 8:20 p.m. ET slot for NBC. The Bucs-Raiders will now be at 4:05 p.m. ET on Fox.
The move came “out of an abundance of caution to ensure that a game would be available for fans on Sunday Night Football.” The Seahawks are a favorite among football bettors, so the ratings are likely to be strong even without the marquee matchup of NFL superstar Tom Brady versus a surprisingly strong Raiders team.
Raiders tackle Trent Brown was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, and the team sent home its starting offensive lineman as part of its contact tracing protocol. The league said it still expects Buccaneers-Raiders to be played Sunday.
The NFL has been juggling its schedule when players test positive, moving games to other days of the week and bye weeks. The NFL is willing to extend its playoffs and Super Bowl into March if need be, according to reports this week.
Unlike some other professional sports leagues that have shortened schedules, curtailed travel, and instituted bubbles, the NFL has avoided plans. The NFL has said it intends to play a full 16-game schedule plus a bye week, with no travel exceptions.
Some teams have already had games moved to the bye week because of COVID-19 outbreaks, but so far, the schedule has been manageable. Player and key employee testing is conducted daily except for game day, and some false positives have raised unnecessary alarms in some cases.