While the Kansas City Chiefs continue preparing for their upcoming two-game road trip down south, starting with the Miami Dolphins this week, the team’s Week 15 opponent, the New Orleans Saints, announced a change that will directly impact the playoff-bound Chiefs next weekend.
According to an official statement released on Thursday morning, the team has decided to reduce the fan capacity allowed at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the highly anticipated December 20 matchup against the Chiefs by 80%, down from 15,000 to 3,000.
The update is a welcome one for the Chiefs, who should benefit from much less crowd noise in the dome, especially while Patrick Mahomes and company are on offense during the meeting of Super Bowl LV contenders.
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Rising COVID-19 Cases Force Hand of Saints, New Orleans Mayor
The team, in conjunction with local government and health officials, announced that the decision was made based on a couple of predetermined safety thresholds for the region that houses the Saints’ home turf:
On October 20, the team, along with the Mayor’s office, her health and safety team and health experts from Ochsner Health stated that barring any change in local health and safety guidelines any additional changes to crowd size would only be possible if current trends continued to remain stable. Should those conditions be met, capacity would be incrementally increased up to 15,000 for regular season games.
Based on current data, those predetermined thresholds that have triggered the team and city to roll back the capacity — (a) positivity rate above 5% and (b) cases over 25 per 100,000 (about 100 per day) — have both now been surpassed in Orleans Parish.
Along with a handful of other teams across the NFL during the ongoing pandemic — Kansas City included — the defending NFC South champions elected to open their stadium doors to the general public on game days, with 6,000 patrons in attendance at each of the past two home games in November.
The Saints will travel to Philadelphia for a tilt versus the Eagles on Sunday, completing the last leg of a three-week road trip that began in Denver in Week 12 back on November 29.
Chiefs Star Returns to Practice
After missing Kansas City’s first practice of Week 14 on Wednesday due to non-COVID-related illnesses, All-Pro WR Tyreek Hill and rookie OL Yasir Durant both returned to the field for Thursday’s session.
On the downside, LB Damien Wilson missed his second consecutive day of practice due to a lingering knee injury, which could open up additional opportunities for 2020 second-round draft pick Willie Gay Jr. on Sunday if the sixth-year veteran is unable to suit up.
There were no changes on the Dolphins’ side, with Brian Flores‘ squad listing 15 players on its report, including notable no-shows LB Kyle Van Noy and LB Elandon Roberts who also missed their second straight day of practice.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, CO. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join our Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest news out of Chiefs Kingdom!