Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs dons a mask on the sideline earlier this season.

'We expect this to get harder.' For the NFL, it's Super Bowl or bust as the pandemic rages

Updated 12:01 PM ET, Sun November 15, 2020

(CNN)The Super Bowl, the crown jewel of American sports, is scheduled for the first Sunday in February at Raymond James Stadium in Florida at a time when total US deaths from the coronavirus are projected to be nearly 400,000 -- about six times the venue's seating capacity.

"Our objective is for all teams to safely and responsibly complete the regular season within our 17-week schedule -- and have a full postseason, culminating with the Super Bowl with fans in the stands on February 7th in Tampa," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week as the league embarked on the second half of the season.