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Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: 1-32 poll, plus each team’s most impactful injury



Injuries play a huge part in how the NFL Power Rankings are ordered. The loss of a few key guys can wreak havoc on the ranking process — and the league at large. But few seasons have seen as many key injuries this early as 2020 has.

Whether it’s the lack of preseason reps due to the COVID-19 pandemic or simply 2020-style bad luck, a lot of star players have been knocked out of action. So we had our NFL Nation writers pick the biggest injury on the team they cover and assess its impact.

How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel — a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities — evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

Previous rankings: 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

Jump to:
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF

Week 6 ranking: 1

Most impactful injury: DE/OLB Bruce Irvin

Irvin’s season-ending knee injury in Week 2 was a double whammy for Seattle’s defense because of the dual role he fills as the strongside linebacker on early downs and an edge rusher in passing situations. The Seahawks have the depth at linebacker with Cody Barton and first-round pick Jordyn Brooks to get by there, but Irvin was the most accomplished piece of a pass rush that has only generated nine sacks in five games and was already lacking firepower before he went down. — Brady Henderson

Week 6 ranking: 3

Most impactful injury: G Kelechi Osemele

Osemele tore tendons in both of his knees in Week 5 against the Raiders, leaving the Chiefs without their most impactful interior offensive lineman. The Chiefs turned to journeyman Mike Remmers to replace him. The Chiefs are now down three potential starting offensive linemen, including Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang. Both opted out before the season because of COVID-19 concerns. — Adam Teicher

Week 6 ranking: 6

Most impactful injury: LB Devin Bush

The Steelers’ most recent injury is the one they could least afford. Inside linebacker is the thinnest position on the team, and Bush played every single snap before he tore his ACL in the second quarter of Sunday’s win against the Browns. Backup Robert Spillane, who played one defensive snap entering the season, took over for Bush and wore the defensive headset for the rest of the game. Spillane is slated to wear the headset going forward and take over Bush’s snaps. The Steelers expressed confidence in Spillane, but facing unbeaten Tennessee and impressive running back Derrick Henry this week will be a significant test. — Brooke Pryor

Week 6 ranking: 4

Most impactful injury: CB Tavon Young

Since Young suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, the Ravens have replaced their top nickelback with the combination of Jimmy Smith and Anthony Averett. There’s no doubt Baltimore would be stronger if Young were covering the slot receiver. The Ravens believe he is one of the top nickelbacks in the NFL when healthy. But Baltimore also is used to not having Young, who has only played in one full game since the start of the 2019 season. If there is a position where the Ravens can absorb an injury, it’s in a deep secondary. — Jamison Hensley



Ryan Tannehill is disappointed the Titans are losing left tackle Taylor Lewan to an ACL injury, but he’s confident Ty Sambrailo will step up.

Week 6 ranking: 8

Most impactful injury: LT Taylor Lewan

Lewan suffered a torn ACL on Sunday and is out for the season. Losing their starting left tackle is a big blow for the Titans, as Lewan brings energy to the offense. His physicality is perfect for the zone rushing scheme the Titans employ. So far this season, Tennessee is averaging 3.9 yards attempt when running to the left (Lewan’s side). Veteran offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo will be called upon to play left tackle in place of Lewan. Although Sambrailo is a capable player, there’s a considerable drop-off from Lewan, who is Tennessee’s best O-lineman. — Turron Davenport

Week 6 ranking: 2

Most impactful injury: WR Allen Lazard

Just when the Packers’ No. 2 wideout showed he could be a legit No. 2 — with six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Saints — he was gone, lost for several weeks due to core muscle surgery. The Packers were already thin at wide receiver, and with Davante Adams battling a hamstring injury that kept him out in Weeks 3 and 4. Aaron Rodgers has barely played with his top two targets at the same time. — Rob Demovsky

Week 6 ranking: 12

Most impactful injury: DT Vita Vea

Prior to suffering a broken ankle against the Bears in Week 5, Vea was among the most double-teamed players in the league. At 347 pounds, it’s nearly impossible to single block a body that big and that quick, which is why he was a key factor in the Bucs’ top-rated rush defense and their potent pass rush. Vea also played a key role in the A-gap blitzes that Todd Bowles uses so much. Rotational tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches has stepped up to fill the void, and he helped the Bucs’ defense notch five sacks against the Packers in a 38-10 win on Sunday. They also traded with the New York Jets for Steve McLendon, who played for Bowles previously. — Jenna Laine



Rex Ryan asserts that defensive pressure on Aaron Rodgers is the key to defeating the Packers.

Week 6 ranking: 5

Most impactful injury: LB Matt Milano

Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and cornerback Tre’Davious White have each missed a game to injury, but Milano has already been lost for three tilts in the first six weeks. When Milano doesn’t play, the middle of the Bills’ defense is exposed, especially in the passing game. Now in a contract year, Milano presents a conundrum for Buffalo’s front office: He is clearly too valuable to let walk in free agency, but his injury history might put a cap on what type of salary he can command. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Week 6 ranking: 9

Most impactful injury: WR Michael Thomas

This one is pretty obvious, considering Thomas is the NFL’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year after catching a league-record 149 passes last year. Thomas has been out since suffering an ankle injury in Week 1, and the offense clearly missed him while taking several weeks to get in sync. Drew Brees has finally started to develop a rhythm with fellow WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith, which bodes well for them now that Thomas appears likely to return following the Week 6 bye. But as of now, the Saints rank 28th in the NFL in yards per game by wide receivers. — Mike Triplett

Week 6 ranking: 7

Most impactful injury: RB Cam Akers

The Rams have mostly avoided serious injuries, with the exception of left guard Joe Noteboom (calf) and safety Jordan Fuller (shoulder), who were both placed on injured reserve but are expected to return after being replaced by experienced starters. So the most significant injury was to Akers, who suffered separated rib cartilage in Week 2 and was sidelined for two games. A second-round pick from Florida State, Akers started the first two games and appeared on track to play a large role. Despite returning to health and rushing for 61 yards on nine carries in Week 5, Akers did not have a touch in Week 6. — Lindsey Thiry

Week 6 ranking: 13

Most impactful injury: RB Tarik Cohen

Cohen, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3, contributed heavily on offense and special teams. The Bears have yet to fill Cohen’s multidimensional role on offense, although veteran Lamar Miller is a strong candidate to do so whenever the Bears elevate him off the practice squad. Cohen provided Chicago with a strong second option in the run game alongside David Montgomery, and Cohen caught 79 passes out of the backfield last season. The Bears also are struggling to fill Cohen’s role on punt returns, where veteran Ted Ginn Jr. has failed to generate much positive yardage in recent weeks. — Jeff Dickerson

Week 6 ranking: 14

Most impactful injury: RB Marlon Mack

Mack suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the first half of the Week 1 game at Jacksonville. The plan all along was for Mack to be the starter and for rookie Jonathan Taylor to get significant carries behind Mack, but Taylor has been forced to carry the bulk of the load out of the backfield. The rookie out of Wisconsin has shown flashes but doesn’t have Mack’s consistency yet. Taylor, who leads the Colts with 367 yards rushing, struggles at times turning up field when there’s a lane to run through. The Colts, who were seventh in the NFL in rushing last last, are 26th in the league this season with 98.0 yards per game. — Mike Wells

Week 6 ranking: 10

Most impactful injury: RB Nick Chubb

Chubb suffered an MCL knee injury in Week 3 against the Cowboys. The Browns continue to boast the league’s leading rushing offense behind running back Kareem Hunt, but it hasn’t been quite as effective since Chubb went down. Cleveland is hopeful Chubb will be able to return around mid-November. He is still No. 2 in the league with an average of 2.6 rushing yards after contact. And having established himself as one of the best backs in the league, Chubb is paramount to the Browns’ offense reaching its potential. — Jake Trotter



Rex Ryan and Dan Orlovsky detail the struggles of Cam Newton and the Patriots’ offense after their loss to the Broncos.

Week 6 ranking: 11

Most impactful injury: C David Andrews

The starting center and captain sustained a hand injury in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks and missed the past three games, two of which the Patriots lost. That has led to some major shuffling along the offensive line. The results showed up in a big way in a surprising Week 6 loss to the Broncos in which the Patriots opened with one combination up front and then switched it around considerably after an in-game injury to right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor. When things get shaky up front, the entire offense falters. — Mike Reiss

Week 6 ranking: 15

Most impactful injury: RT Trent Brown

Before last week’s signature win at Kansas City, Brown had played just three snaps due to a cranky calf. But once he returned, Las Vegas’ offensive line had a decidedly different look. Quarterback Derek Carr, with more time to let plays develop downfield, let it fly, throwing long passes to Henry Ruggs III and Nelson Agholor. The vertical game was a welcome return for Raider Nation, and a healthy Brown helped make it happen. With the Buccaneers and their fierce pass rush up next — Tampa Bay’s 22 sacks are the second most in the league — Brown needs to stay on point. — Paul Gutierrez

Week 6 ranking: 16

Most impactful injury: OLB Chandler Jones

Jones has been the best pass-rusher in the NFL since entering the league in 2012 with 97 sacks, the most over that stretch. He tore his right bicep in Arizona’s Week 5 win over the Jets and had surgery last week to repair it. But losing Jones, who only had one sack this season, will have a domino effect on the defense. Teams were keying on Jones, who had 19 sacks last season. He was getting consistent double-teams and chips this year, and his presence opened up rushing lanes for the rest of the defense. Without Jones, offensive lines can key on both sides of the pass rush, which will make getting to the quarterback more difficult. — Josh Weinfuss



Josh Weinfuss reports on Chandler Jones’ season-ending injury and explains what’s next for the Cardinals without him.

Week 6 ranking: 17

Most impactful injury: DE Nick Bosa

The Niners have had more impactful injuries than just about every team in the league, but none has hurt more than Bosa’s season-ending torn ACL. This is a team that is built around the idea of the defense creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks with its front four. Bosa is the team’s best defensive player and leads that defensive line. Without him, the Niners are blitzing at a much higher rate after bringing extra rushers the fifth-fewest times in 2019. Simply put, Bosa was one of the players on the roster the Niners could least afford to lose, and he won’t be back until 2021. — Nick Wagoner

Week 6 ranking: 19

Most impactful injury: DT Kawann Short

With Short alongside first-round pick Derrick Brown, this front four had a chance to be something special this year. They had two players who would demand double-teams, get a solid inside push and free up the edge rushers. Without Short, there’s more pressure on Brown and Zach Kerr to step up. It also puts more pressure on the depth at tackle, which could be a factor deep in the season. It might ultimately lead to Carolina playing more three-man fronts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the speed the Panthers have on the edge from players such as Brian Burns. — David Newton

Week 6 ranking: 23

Most impactful injury: CB Byron Jones

Jones missed nearly three games with a groin injury suffered in the opening snaps of a Week 2 loss to the Bills, and his absence clearly affected the Dolphins’ pass defense. In the three full games Jones has played, the Dolphins allowed an average of 139 passing yards and 12.7 points per contest, with a record of 2-1. In the nearly three games Jones missed, the Dolphins yielded 333 passing yards and 25 points per contest. More than anything, Jones’ presence is allowing Xavien Howard to feast. Howard is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions, one in each of the past four games. — Cameron Wolfe

Week 6 ranking: 18

Most impactful injury: QB Dak Prescott

While the Cowboys have expressed faith in Andy Dalton, the full impact of losing Prescott might not be felt for a few weeks. In addition to playing at a high level, Prescott also was the heart and soul of the team as its biggest leader. Anytime a team loses a star quarterback, it can throttle a team. But Prescott’s injury is not the only one that hurts. The Cowboys are without both tackles, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, and the latter did not play this season. That has a huge impact on the offense, but nothing like losing the quarterback. — Todd Archer

Week 6 ranking: 20

Most impactful injury: QB Tyrod Taylor

The Chargers have plenty of injuries to choose from (pick an injury, any injury), but none more impactful than Taylor’s. He went down just before Game 2 with a punctured lung (from a blind injection for a rib injury). Up next was Justin Herbert, and a star was born. Anthony Lynn named Herbert the permanent starter just before his Monday Night Football debut — and he was spectacular. It’s impossible not to feel for Taylor and his bad luck in this league. “He’s a competitor,” Lynn said. But so is Herbert, who is also the future — and the one who could guide this team out of its early funk. — Shelley Smith



Max Kellerman and Dan Orlovsky get fired up disagreeing over whether Carson Wentz deserves blame for the Eagles’ Week 6 loss.

Week 6 ranking: 22

Most impactful injury: RT Lane Johnson

There are plenty of injuries to choose from, as the Eagles only had two original members of their starting offense — Carson Wentz and Jason Kelce — on the field at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. But Johnson’s ankle injury has been a big one. He has missed two games and hasn’t been himself when he has played. That has fueled instability along the offensive front and has spelled bad news for Wentz, who has been sacked a league-high 25 times. — Tim McManus

Week 6 ranking: 25

Most impactful injury: CB Desmond Trufant

This is largely because it has exposed some of the issues Detroit has in its secondary. The Lions might have played Jeff Okudah early anyway in place of Amani Oruwariye, but Trufant’s continued hamstring injuries — he has had two now — have forced a starting group of Oruwariye and Okudah. Oruwariye has thrived, showing real growth in his second year. Okudah, the rookie, has struggled, but he can’t be replaced until Trufant returns. Being able to watch for a little while after getting used to the NFL speed did wonders for Darius Slay as a rookie. It could do the same for Okudah. — Michael Rothstein

Week 6 ranking: 28

Most impactful injury: LB Von Miller

Only Dak Prescott‘s injury might have the same kind of impact to a player’s franchise. Miller is the Broncos’ hub, the guy who put a third Lombardi in the trophy case in the lobby of the team’s complex. He also was the center of their preseason defensive plan. Paired with Bradley Chubb, and with Jurrell Casey in the middle of the defense, the Broncos were expected to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. Without Miller — Casey later suffered a season-ending torn biceps — the Broncos have had to blitz far more than they’d like to. They are currently tied for 11th in the league in sacks but are taking more risks to do it. — Jeff Legwold

Week 6 ranking: 21

Most impactful injury: DE Danielle Hunter

No question it’s Hunter, who sustained a herniated disc in practice on Aug. 14 and hasn’t done any football-related activity since. Even though the Vikings were optimistic Hunter’s IR stay would be brief, they still knew his injury could keep him out six to eight weeks. It led them to trade for Yannick Ngakoue under the guise that they’d have the league’s top pass-rushing duo when it was clearly a move pulled off to aid the defensive line while Hunter sat out. The Vikings’ defense is dealing with injuries everywhere, but Hunter’s is the most significant for a defense that has been historically bad throughout much of 2020. — Courtney Cronin

Week 6 ranking: 24

Most impactful injury: CB Gareon Conley

The Texans have been relatively healthy, but they did start the year without Conley, who had ankle surgery during the offseason. Who knows if Conley would have made a huge difference for a secondary allowing an average of 245.5 passing yards per game, but he would have given defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver another option behind Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves. — Sarah Barshop

Week 6 ranking: 26

Most impactful injury: DT D.J. Reader

Reader suffered a season-ending quad injury in a Week 5 defeat against the Ravens. Before that, Reader was living up to his $53 million contract and solidified a defensive line that has dealt with injuries and an opt-out. He was everything the Bengals were looking for when they signed him this offseason and was in position to help Cincinnati maximize DT Geno Atkins‘ snaps. But with Reader on IR and gone for the year, the patchwork required on the defensive interior becomes increasingly difficult. — Ben Baby

Week 6 ranking: 30

Most impactful injury: WR Julio Jones

The Falcons were without Jones for most of Week 4 and all of Week 5. Those two games were their two worst offensive performances of the season, with scores of 16 points in both losses. With Jones back on Sunday, the Falcons put up 40 points, and Jones caught eight passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns en route to their first win of the season. — Sarah Barshop

Week 6 ranking: 27

Most impactful injury: DT Matt Ioannidis

Ioannidis tore his bicep in a Week 3 loss at Cleveland, and he will miss the rest of the season. While the defensive line has depth and remains talented, losing Ioannidis was a big blow, especially to the pass rush. He had a combined 16 sacks the previous two seasons and had 1.5 this season (tied for the most among the team’s interior linemen). Washington’s front remains solid, but the team has holes in the back seven and needs the line to generate more pressure. The team has sacked the quarterback 16 times this season — but eight occurred in the opener. In the three full games since Ioannidis was hurt, Washington has three sacks. — John Keim

Week 6 ranking: 29

Most impactful injury: DE Josh Allen

Allen has missed the past two games because of a knee injury, which robs the Jaguars of their best and most experienced pass-rusher. He wasn’t dominating when he was on the field (two sacks, seven QB hits), but he is the Jaguars’ only hope of getting to the passer. The rest of the defense has three sacks and 21 QB hits combined. The Jaguars need him back ASAP. — Mike DiRocco

Week 6 ranking: 31

Most impactful injury: RB Saquon Barkley

The Giants built their offense around Barkley and had him available for five quarters. It has put a new coaching staff in a tough spot. The Giants had to sign Devonta Freeman off the street, and he is now their primary back. But he’s not Barkley, who topped 2,000 total yards as a rookie before injuries ruined these past two seasons. The star running back was the only player on the Giants’ roster that would keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. Now, the Giants’ offense is limited, which is why they are 31st in offensive efficiency (26.4%). — Jordan Raanan

Week 6 ranking: 32

Most impactful injury: QB Sam Darnold

Darnold has missed two starts with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. The offense, struggling even with Darnold, has bottomed out with Joe Flacco. In 25 possessions, Flacco has led the offense to only one touchdown drive. His lack of mobility and general rust have made him a sitting duck behind a leaky offensive line. It looks like Darnold could miss a third start on Sunday against the Bills. — Rich Cimini


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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home



On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
– MLS on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”



Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.


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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment



The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.


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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls



With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

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