How NFL Teams Fare After Bye Weeks
NFL Handicapping: How NFL Teams Fare After Bye Weeks
by Vernon Croy
One of the biggest questions that bettors face week to week in the NFL season is how they should treat teams coming off their bye weeks. Every team’s season is broken up with one week off during the year, and trying to judge how a team is going to perform after that break can be very challenging. Indeed, there are a number of different factors to consider here, and ultimately, you’ll have to make some case-by-case judgment calls as opposed to blanket statements or strategies.
Note: If you’re here looking for specific records of how NFL teams have done after the bye week, please see our NFL Records After the Bye Week article which is updated annually.
What many people are surprised about at first, is that different teams fare very differently after bye weeks than one another. Ultimately, it depends on the quality of the team and how good they are, but it also depends on the quality of the coaching staff and how well that staff can game plan and use their time accordingly to get their team ready.
In the last ten seasons, for example (This article was written during the 2011 season), the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles are both 8-2 against the spread in games after their bye weeks. That’s a phenomenal record, and it showcases two teams who are very talented, with two coaching staffs that do a great job game planning and making the most out of their talents.
Even more impressive for the Eagles is their overall record after bye weeks under Andy Reid. Reid as head coach of the Eagles has never lost a game after the bye. He’s 12-0! That’s a huge testament to what he does as a coach with an extra week, the way he uses the players that he has, and more.
Of course, for every team that goes 8-2 in the NFL in any category, there’s another that likely goes 2-8. In terms of success or failure after bye weeks, those teams as of late have been the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills. Both of those teams are 2-8 against the spread after their bye weeks in the last ten seasons. The common themes there are basically that those two teams have been generally very poor over that time period. They have had revolving doors at head coach and haven’t won much at all, whether it’s before or after the bye or any other time.
That’s a major factor that you have to consider, and it’s how good the team is, to begin with. A team that is 2-5 is much more likely to lose after a bye week than a team that is 5-2. Why? Because the 5-2 team is better and is more likely to win any game, of course! So you don’t want to get too crazy or outlandish with your after-the-bye week strategies or thinking. Good teams will still win more than bad teams, and that’s the basic rule.
Certain situations are definitely more impacted by bye weeks than others, too. If a team has a star player coming back after an injury following the bye week, that can be a huge boost to them. Even if no single star player was hurt before the bye, but a handful of contributors were banged up and could have greatly benefited from the time off, then that time will come back as much stronger and will be more likely to succeed.
Conversely, if a team makes a big change over a bye week, then trouble could be ahead. Bad teams often change quarterbacks in the midst of their bye week or sometimes even make coaching changes. Even though an extra week to prepare is a good thing for making these moves, the moves themselves are bound to lend themselves to uncertainty and inconsistent or poor play.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider here and a lot to try to sort through and deal with. Generally good or very good football teams with above-average coaching staffs do very well after bye weeks. The extra preparation helps. Teams with players coming back from injuries after byes also do good. But don’t expect a bye week to help everyone. Some teams have a track record of playing awfully after the bye, and if a team wasn’t good before the time off, chances are, they still won’t be good after the bye either.
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Unrelated but fun: If you’re a born in the 70’s and 80’s football purist like I am, you’ll really enjoy our famous football quotes article that brings back the goodness of yesteryear. Also be sure to watch the video at the end. Nothing better than a smorgasboard of soul-soothing NFL theme song music!