Yankees’ Luke Voit opens up about foot injury that plagued him all season

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees ended their season in game five against the Tampa Bay Rays in game 5 of the ALDS on Friday night. Despite Gerrit Cole lasting 5.1 innings and allowing just one earned run, the Yankees simply couldn’t bail him out with their inconsistent offense.

The story for the Yankees this year has been their inability to put runs on the board consistently. One day they will post 15 on any given team and then go on a five-game streak of three runs or less. Losing two consecutive games in the middle of the series to the Rays was always going to be tough to come back from, and questionable pitching decisions in game 2 set the Yankees back significantly.

However, injuries were the main storyline for the Yankees this year, who lost Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the majority of the season. That is not to mention starting pitcher James Paxton also going down with a flexor strain, forcing him out of the postseason.

If Paxton would have been available, the Yankees might have had a better chance of winning game 2 and moving onto the ALCS against the Houston Astros. Of course, that wasn’t the case, and the Yankees are now looking forward to 2021 free agency and who they can pick up to bolster the rotation.

The New York Yankees had one player rise above the rest in 2020:

One player that rose to the occasion was Luke Voit, who finished the regular campaign with a .277 batting average and 22 home runs, the most in his four-year professional career. He hit home runs at nearly double the rate this season, keeping the Yankees afloat when their other sluggers were missing time due to injury. Voit, though, was also dealing with issues of his own, specifically on his foot.

“The plan is for me to go back and get it looked at,” Voit said told reporters after the game. “I think it’s just your classic case of plantar fasciitis. But, again, I don’t know. Plan on getting something done on Sunday like an MRI and see what the problem is. I really don’t know. I wasn’t trying to be secretive about it. We just didn’t know.”

Voit has been visibly limping for weeks but decided to play through the injury because his team needed him. His toughness and grit were exactly what the Bombers needed, while other players dropped out of the starting lineup for minor issues. He was their saving grace and has cemented himself as the starting first baseman moving forward.

“I feel like I let my team down,” he said. “I feel like I had a terrible five games against those guys and they’ve got good pitching and we’ve got to do better. It’s frustrating. It sucks. Just fuel for the fire for next year.”

He added, “I hate this feeling. It sucks. it’s the third year in a row going through it. Going to use it in every workout, every (batting practice) session, cage session I have and be ready for spring training next year.”

The Yankees have the talent to compete and win a World Series, they just have inconsistencies in there most influential units. Their starting rotation is weak, and they don’t have enough contact hitters. We can expect two things this off-season, one, they will re-sign DJ LeMahieu for at least four years, and they will go out and sign a true No. 2 starting pitcher to pair with Gerrit Cole.

New York Giants: One pass rusher to keep an eye on with Oshane Ximines hitting IR

carter coughlin, New York Giants

Based on the injuries the Dallas Cowboys are currently facing, most would say that their opponents would have a favorable matchup, especially on the offensive line. They will be without their starting center, right tackle, and left tackle against the New York Giants in week five. However, the New York Giants have a few injuries of their own, specifically at pass rusher.

Big Blue put second-year outside linebacker Oshane Ximines on injured reserve Friday afternoon, and Kyler Fackrell is also questionable for the contest against Dallas. That will ultimately force players like Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter into more prominent roles. Through four weeks, Golden has only enjoyed 26% of defensive snaps, posting zero sacks and just six tackles in that timeframe.

Considering Golden’s lack of production lately, the Giants could inject rookie Carter Coughlin at OLB in the absence of Ximines. He hasn’t played a single down on defense this year, but has played 25% of special team snaps.

What does Carter Coughlin bring to the New York Giants defense if given an opportunity?

Coughlin, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL draft, has exceptional physical traits and athleticism. His 4.57 40-yard dash and 8.16 10-yard split in the combine both ranked in the 80th percentile for linebackers this year.

At 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, Coughlin doesn’t represent a power rusher but more of a finesse player. Back in 2018, Coughlin ranked third among Big-10 players with a 92.2 overall pass-rush grade.

Carter ranked above Joey Bosa and just behind Chase Young and Nick Bosa in pass rush grading. For the Giants to experience that same value in the NFL, they need to increase his bulk but ultimately use him to his strengths.

I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with Coufhlib sealing the edge in the run game, but he can be a solid pass rusher against heavy-footed tackles. His speed and athleticism off the edge makes him an interesting player, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the Giants rotate him with Markus Golden, for the time being, just to gather some film.

New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone: ‘It’s a cruel ending’

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Expectations were high coming into the year. Everybody thought the New York Yankees would be among the strongest teams in baseball and one of the candidates to win it all come late October. However, once again, the team disappointed, and this time, they didn’t even made it to the Championship Series.

The Yankees lost the best-of-five Division Series 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays, culminating with a painful 2-1 loss at Petco Park on Friday night. Aroldis Chapman allowed the game-winning home run to Mike Brosseau after a 10-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning. The offense couldn’t back up a fantastic start on three days rest by Gerrit Cole.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone was, naturally, disappointed at the way his team’s season ended.
“It’s awful,” Boone said. “The ending is cruel. It really is,” he said according to SNY. Because of a shallow bullpen, the Yankees’ skipper was forced to go to Chapman for a significant workload for the second night in a row.

The Yankees’ core will make another run in 2021

Boone is confident that he will be able to, eventually, lead the Yankees to their 28th World Series title.

The team has a strong core, especially in the position players’ side. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and company will return next season to give it another shot. Luis Severino will presumably regain his health at some point next year, but Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and James Paxton will be free agents, so the pitching will need some patching.

“We’re gonna get there,” Boone said. “I know it. It’s going to make it all the sweeter, but a lot of hurting people in that room right now.” The Yankees haven’t won a World Series title since 2009, making it eleven years now.

New York Yankees: Mike Brosseau and Aroldis Chapman downplay the “revenge” aspect of homer

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

In a disappointing turn of events, the New York Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs by losing the win-or-go-home Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1, thanks to a late home run by Tampa infielder Mike Brosseau. Now, the Rays are moving on to the American League Championship Series and will face the Houston Astros starting Sunday.

Brosseau hit a solo home run in the eighth inning against Aroldis Chapman, after battling a 10-pitch at-bat. As you know, there is a little bit of history between the Rays infielder and the Yankees’ closer, as the latter threw a pitch near the former’s head in early September, and it resulted in some tension between the two teams.

However, Brosseau, and Chapman himself, denied that it was a “revenge” home run, saying that the issue is now in the past.

“The revenge aspect, it’s not a thought in my mind,” Brosseau said, according to Marly Rivera of ESPN. “We put it in the past and we moved on. We moved just straight to business. The battle that we’ve had all year with these guys, to go to Game 5 and have such an unbelievably played well-played game, well-executed – you can’t script it any better.”

The Yankees lost the game on that dinger

The New York Yankees’ fireballer was suspended three games after the September 1 incident, the same that resulted in Rays’ manager Kevin Cash comment that they also had a whole stable of guys that could throw 98 mph.

“I wasn’t thinking about (the Brosseau incident) at all,” Chapman also added postgame, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “That happened about a month ago. This is the way it worked out. He put a good swing on that pitch. I’ve got to give him credit.”

The game was tied at one run apiece in the eighth when Brosseau went yard against Chapman. The Yankees will now go home and start a very important offseason in which they will have to address starting and relief pitching, at the very least.

New York Yankee Legends: The Yankees suffer the loss of Whitey Ford (video)

Today, the New York Yankees morn the loss of a baseball season, but there will be others. More significantly, they morn the loss of not only a Yankee legend but a baseball legend that will never be replaced.  Yesterday, before the Yankee loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees learned that the great Whitey Ford had passed away at his Long Island home on Thursday night after an illness. Ford was 91 years old.

Yesterday, the Yankees had time to emblazon all the Yankee uniforms with the number 16, in tribute to Whitey Ford’s number. It was kind of ironic as the great Yankee pitcher spent his entire 16-year career with the New York Yankees.

For many of you aged one to fifty, you remember Whitey Ford as that old guy that showed up every year at the Yankee Old Timers Day celebration and game at Yankee Stadium. You watched him age through the years and last year, not take part in the celebration and game, but only stand atop the Yankee dugout and wave his cap to the crowd, but with thunderous applause.

New York Yankees, Whitey Ford
Jun 17, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees former pitcher Whitey Ford at the Old Timer’s Day ceremony at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For me, as a young boy, I watched Ford pitch. It was a different time and a different atmosphere.  Today you can watch baseball 24/7. When I was a boy, you had to wait for the ABC game of the week or other nationally televised events. I remember clearing my chores so I could watch Whitey Ford pitch in that Sunday afternoon game. Back then, you read more about baseball than you saw games played. I was a New York Yankee fan when my Grandfather bought us our first television, and we watched together the 1951 World Series.

My baseball idols were Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Mantle, and yes, Whitey Ford. Much like when Mariano Rivera took the mound in the ninth, you knew that the game was won. When Whitey Ford took the mound, you knew that he would win.  And that he did, Ford was the winningest Yankees pitcher ever (236), he also holds the record for the most Yankee shutouts (45). In the New York Yankees history, only Andy Pettitte started as many games, but Ford beats him out in innings pitched (3.170).

He was a Cy Young Award winner; he was a ten-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion. In 1961, a World Series Most Valuable Player. Ford led the American League (AL) in wins three times and earned run average (ERA) twice. In the past several years, we have lost many great Yankees, Phil Rizzuto, Mel Stottlemyer, Yogi Berra, Don Larsen, and others, now we have lost the great Whitey Ford, but for those of us that watched him pitch, his memory will live on. 

Ford was a local boy, born in Queens just a few miles from the Bronx. As a child, Ford played baseball and stickball in the summer in the sandlots of the Queens, football in the fall, and roller hockey in the winter. During the summers, Ford and his friends played sandlot baseball until dark on fields next to the Madison Square Garden Bowl, about a mile from his home neighborhood. When not playing there, he and his friends would play stickball against a wall using a broomstick.

Several neighborhood fathers got together and bought uniforms for their sons. They organized a team for the 13-year-olds, called the Thirty-fourth Avenue Boys. The group stayed together for five years. Ford’s childhood baseball hero was Joe DiMaggio, who he got to see when he and his Father boarded the Subway for the trip to Yankee Stadium.

In Ford’s senior years of highschool In April 1946, he attended a Yankees tryout camp at Yankee Stadium as a first baseman. Paul Krichell, a Yankees scout, noticed Ford’s strong-arm during fielding practice. It was thought he was too small to play first base but had him throw a few pitches on the sidelines and showed him how to throw a curveball. He alternated every other game by pitching and playing at first base, in the summer after he graduated by playing with the Thirty-fourth Avenue Boys. The team went 36-0 to win the Queens-Nassau semipro league, with Ford winning 18 games without a loss when pitching.

Whitey was signed by the Yankees in 1947 as an amateur free agent and was assigned to the minor leagues. During this time, he got his nickname “Whitey” for his nearly albino blond hair. He made his major league debut on July 1, 1950, and let it be known that he was a force to be reckoned with. He won his first nine games in a row. He was named AL Rookie of the Year by sporting news. One thing most of today’s fans are not aware of is that his record would probably be even better, had Casey Stengel not saved him for the bigger games.

In 1951 Whitey would marry his wife, Joan. After the wedding, the Fords delayed their Florida honeymoon for three days so that Whitey could throw out the first pitch at the Yankees’ 1951 Opening Day in Yankee Stadium. They lived on Long Island and raised two sons and a daughter. After his first very successful first year with the Yankees, he served the next two years during the Korean War in the Army.

When returning to the Yankees in 1953, he showed he hadn’t lost any of his skills, going 18-6 on the year and pushed the Yankees to their fifth World Series win in a row. In 1954 the Yankees were loaded with great players and fully expected to win their sixth straight pennant and World Series. They won 103 games, more than in the past five seasons. But lost to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, who would lose the World Series to the Giants.

In 1955 Ford would go 18-7, but the Yankees would not win the World Series again. In 1956 Ford would pitch even better, going 19-6. Ford was 27 years old at the beginning of the 1956 season and started off winning his first six starts while giving up only five runs. He had a minuscule 0.83 earned run average. He would have had 20 wins, but when the Yankees clinched, he decided to forgo his start and save it for the World Series. The Yankee defeated the defending Brooklyn Dodgers in the Series.

The Yankees would again win the World Series in 1958 against the 1957 Champion Milwaukee Braves. In 1961 Whitey was to have his best season ever. He went 25-4 with a 3.21 ERA. He again would be an All-Star and would win his Cy Young Award. In early September, the Yankees held “Whitey Ford Day” before a game against Cleveland, in appreciation of his outstanding season and perhaps to make up for being overshaded by the home run race of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

The club showered him with gifts, including a six-foot package of Life Savers wheeled in from the bullpen. When it arrived on the mound, out popped the other top Yankee, Luis Arroyo. Ford took the joke all in good humor. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series in five games against the Cincinnati Reds, their 19th World Series win.

Ford had three nicknames; Whitey was one of them due to his light blonde hair. He was also called “Slick” by manager Casey Stengel. But the nickname that has always stuck is “The Chairman of the Board.” He got that moniker due to Stengel saving him for big games, and his ability to withstand high-pressure situations with an easy calm while remaining in complete control of a situation.

Ford would go on to have four more winning seasons, including another World Series win in 1962. the last success for the next 15 years. During his career, he had 13 seasons with eleven wins or more. His second best was the 24-7 season in 1963. He will go down in history as one of the greatest Yankee pitchers of all time.

“Today all of Major League Baseball mourns the loss of Whitey Ford, a New York City native who became a legend for his hometown team,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Whitey earned his status as the ace of some of the most memorable teams in our sport’s rich history. Beyond the Chairman of the Board’s excellence on the mound, he was a distinguished ambassador for our National Pastime throughout his life. I extend my deepest condolences to Whitey’s family, his friends and admirers throughout our game, and all fans of the Yankees.”

Thursday night, October 8, 2020, surrounded by family in Lake Success, New York, the great Whitey Ford, while watching the Yankees play on tv, passed away twelve days short of his 92 birthday. Whitey, may you rest in peace knowing that you were loved by Yankee fans everywhere.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. You can follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

 

 

5 bold predictions for New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys in week 5

New York Giants, Ryan Lewis

If the New York Giants put up fewer than 12 points, which their average through four games suggests, they will undoubtedly lose the Dallas Cowboys by a fair margin.

Despite the Giants’ defense ranking 13th in scoring allowed and fifth in yards per game allowed, Dallas has a high-octane offense capable of tearing apart any defense. Last week against the Browns, the Cowboys put up 38 points, with Dak Prescott throwing four touchdowns and 502 yards.

For Big Blue to overcome the Cowboys, their offense must find a spark and attack their weakness secondary. Allowing 36.5 points per game through four weeks, the current Dallas defense is the worst in team history, giving Daniel Jones and his struggling unit a slim advantage.

Five bold predictions for the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys in week 5:

1.) The pass rush will be dominant against a thinned Dallas O-line

Dallas will be without their starting left tackle, right tackle, and center, giving the Giants’ pass rushers a fantastic opportunity to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Giants currently ranked 11th in running yards allowed by opposing offenses, which is a solid number and matchup considering the Cowboys’ issues regarding their injuries.

However, the Giants are dealing with injuries of their own, with Oshane Ximines being placed on injured reserve Friday afternoon. That means Markis Golden, Lorenzo Carter, and  Kyler Fackrell (questionable) will be expected to harness the load.

I expect the interior defensive line to play a significant role in stopping Dallas on offense. Overwhelming their backup center and creating confusion in the interior should allow the outside linebackers to enjoy 1V1 situations with the Cowboys backup tackles.

Brandon Knight, reserve right guard, has been playing at the RT spot, which is a significant weakness for Dallas in week five.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Left Fielder/Third Baseman Jeff McNeil

It was hard to believe there was a time where Jeff McNeil was in a slump during the 2020 season. The New York Mets relied on him to be one of their best hitters and be their everyday third baseman. It only took a couple of weeks to prove he was better off in left field and the Mets. In the end, it was still another productive year from McNeil.

McNeil struggled to find his way on both sides of the ball during the first half of the season. Eight of the first nine games he started were at third base. McNeil made five errors at the position and struggled mightily with his throwing. He traded spots with J.D. Davis and moved to left field, and it turned out to be the best move. McNeil was above average in left field; he did not make an error and mixed in plenty of great defensive plays.

Offensive Frustration

Out of all the Mets, McNeil is the most locked in at the plate, and sometimes it shows through his frustration. He only hit .258/.330/.315, through his first 27 games, and even more surprising because he did not hit a home run as well. McNeil’s hard-hit percentage dropped over ten percent from the 2019 season.

He was still making contact and putting the ball in play at a high rate, but the solid contact we expect was not coming out. This was a major reason why he struggled to homer through the first month and a half. McNeil’s batting stance height also fluctuated throughout the year; once he settled on one position, he began to hit well again.

Once McNeil figured things out, the hits did not stop. In the last 25 games, he batted .362/.434/.585 with four home runs, nine doubles, and had 11 walks and ten strikeouts. McNeil’s .311 average was ninth in the NL, and his 14 doubles were tied for ninth in the league. He struggled against breaking balls, hitting .146 (.256 in 2019) but made up for it by hitting .410 on offspeed pitches (.356 in 2019).

McNeil continued his first pitch dominance, hitting .432 with a .702 slugging when swinging at the first pitch. He also hit .308 w/RISP, and combining it with his strikeout rate in the top two percent in all of baseball made him a very dangerous hitter. His ability to keep his bat in the zone for a long time and wait on the offspeed is how a slump for him was equal to average stats for most players.

McNeil has an interesting role for the 2021 Mets because he likely sees more outfield than infield opportunities. His bat is indispensable; not many players have a .319 career hitter at McNeil’s low price. He should put up All-Star numbers again in 2021.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 75 (80), One of the best pure hitters in the game.

Power: 40 (50), Expect him to get back into the 15-20 range next season.

Run: 55 (50), Does not steal any bases but good wheels on the bases and the outfield.

Arm: 45 (60), The jump is because his arm is better suited for the outfield—strong and plus accuracy.

Field: 50 (50), The ability to play four different positions is a plus. His best work comes in the outfield.

Overall: 60 (70), I think McNeil could have told you he expected a better year. It was good, not great.

Cheick Kongo looking to come up big in home debut at Bellator 248

Today, Bellator will make history. They will be the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. Arguably the biggest name on the card is one of the most famous MMA fighters to ever come from France in Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC).

Kongo will be taking on Tim Johnson (14-6) at Bellator 248 in Paris. The two men fought about two years ago at Bellator 208. That night, Kongo knocked out Johnson in the first round of their heavyweight contest.

Kongo is looking to get back on track in this fight. Prior to his title fight against Ryan Bader at Bellator 226, Kongo had won eight consecutive fights inside the Bellator cage. That warranted him a title shot, but the shot was cut short after an accidental eye poked stopped the action in the first round.

Kongo believed that he deserved an immediate rematch with Ryan Bader given the way the first fight ended. However, Bellator had other plans and booked Kongo against Johnson. Tim Johnson has had a fantastic year in 2020.

After suffering back to back knockout losses, Johnson has won two consecutive fights by knockout. He’s knocked out Matt Mitrione and top Bellator prospect, Tyrell Fortune. This is a big fight if he has championship aspirations.

Bellator 248 Prediction

For Johnson to be successful in the rematch, he’s going to have to grapple with Kongo. He doesn’t want to stand at range and trade with the French striker. That will be a ticket to a quick exit for Johnson. I expect Johnson to come out aggressive looking to tire Kongo.

When it comes to these two, I just believe that they are on different levels. Despite being 44, Kongo looked sensational leading up to that title match against Ryan Bader. I’m expecting Kongo to come out looking very good in Bellator‘s Paris debut.

Expect some early grappling, but I think eventually Kongo is going to be able to catch Johnson with something big. I think it’ll actually come relatively early with Kongo getting the finish in the first. Expect him to call out Ryan Bader once the fight is over.

Prediction: Cheick Kongo by KO – Round 1

New York Yankees: Good news and bad news in ugly end to the season

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Well in another depressing loss, the New York Yankees are going home once again. In game 5 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees not only lost, but they were sent home with silent bats. They had given everything they had on the pitching side of it but came up short. As we sit here staring the offseason in the eye, we now ask ourselves, what’s wrong? Why did this happen again? Why can’t we win with this core? While the game seems like it was all negative, let’s get into the actual game itself and see what went right and wrong for the Bombers.

Good News: Gerrit Cole is the truth

Gerrit Cole came in there and gave us 5.1 innings of 1 run ball. He struck out 9 Tampa Bay Rays and absolutely dominated. 1 hit, 2 walks, 1 HBP, and 1 home run. That’s an insanely dominant stat line off of THREE DAYS of rest. Gerrit, I apologize on behalf of the Yankees for not winning tonight. You absolutely shoved and yet outside of the man himself Aaron Judge hitting a bomb, they did nothing. Let’s stay with the good though and give props to Zack (with a K) Britton who was on his hard carry mode too, and all postseason he was the guy. Those two deserve tips of the cap, and they deserve to be able to rest up this offseason.

For the rest of you guys? You’re gonna hear it from everywhere, starting with me in what went wrong.

Bad News: The New York Yankees need a wakeup call

Aaron Boone has a guy with a 151 wRC+ versus right-handers off of the bench waiting. Who does he bench Higgy for? The dude who has a 48 wRC+ versus righties this year. Frazier should demand a trade. We aren’t treating him the way we should treat a star-caliber outfielder. Now for DJ; dude where were you in Game 5? Seriously? 0-4? Stanton, Voit, and Gio all went cold too. We had no offensive contributions tonight. Aroldis Chapman also played around way too much against Brosseau and that was because he couldn’t get his swing and miss pitch. It fell apart with this team tonight in the end. Everyone should look at themselves in disgust. The New York Yankees lost another crucial series.

The Rays just dug your grave, shoved you in, then danced all over it. Get it together for once, or else the “Yankee” mantra will be gone from this core.

This a rough season, and it’s disgusting to watch this team get embarrassed by a division rival. They have to tighten it up, and they have a long offseason to think about what they’ve just done.

New York Jets: False positive reveal clears a path to Sunday

New York Jets

After a health scare on Friday sent players and personnel home, the New York Jets have received clearance to play on Sunday against Arizona.

A Friday morning health scare forced the New York Jets to send their men in green home, but all signs now point to spending Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets announced in a team statement that all players, coaches, and personnel have all tested negative for COVID-19. These negatives come hours after ESPN’s Adam Schefter stated the Jets emptied their Florham Park headquarters after “a presumptive positive player test”. But the team is now on pace to welcome in the Arizona Cardinals to MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

“This evening, we received negative PCR COVID-19 test results for all players, coaches, and personnel,” the statement reads. “Following a presumptive positive COVID-19 test and out of an abundance of caution to ensure everyone’s health and safety, we sent all players and personnel home this morning. We also initiated all NFL mandated protocols including player isolation, subsequent testing, and contact tracing.”

“As we have thus far, we will continue to follow required health and safety protocols in the best interests of our coaches, players, staff, and community. We look forward to our game this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.”

The Jets previously dealt with false positives during training camp. Their proximity to the NFL’s New Jersey-based BioReference testing lab helped exepditate the process that’s allowing them to play on Sunday.

As the NFL continues to navigate its way through the ongoing health crisis, two games originally scheduled for Sunday have been shifted. The New England Patriots saw one of their games moved for the second straight week, as they’ll take on the Denver Broncos on Monday late afternoon (5 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans have had no new positive tests for consecutive days after having 23 positive tests since September 24. Their matchup with the Buffalo Bills has been moved to national television status on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, CBS) and their Nashville facility could reopen this weekend.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags