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NFL schedule release Thursday: How will coronavirus affect it?

The schedule you see on Thursday may not be the one that actually plays out this fall and winter.

The NFL 2020 schedule is set to be released Thursday night, the league announced Monday. But whether that schedule will remain as announced will have to be seen as the coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with sports across the board.

The schedule for all 32 teams will be announced at 8 p.m. ET Thursday. But whatever it says when it comes out, expect it to be flexible.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Associated Press last week that the NFL plans to open the season as scheduled on Sept. 10 and end with the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. 

But with the coronavirus potentially disrupting things, the season may have to be pushed back, perhaps leading to a Super Bowl in late winter 2021, according to AP. Games at empty stadiums and neutral sites may also be necessary and bye weeks may need to be eliminated.

The NFL announced Monday that it is moving its five planned 2020 international games in London and Mexico City back to the U.S. They will be played in the stadiums of the designated home teams. The league says it plans to resume its international series in 2021.

The NFL had traditionally opened the season on a Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl champions. For its 100th anniversary last year, the league opened the year with a classic matchup of the Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears. The champion New England Patriots were moved to Sunday night of Week 1. If the league goes back to earlier form, the Kansas City Chiefs will host the season-opener.

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