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Bye Week Blues

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Teams haven’t fared well coming off their bye weeks. What’s the issue?

Bye Week Blues

The New York Giants come off their bye week to take on the winless Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Met Life Stadium.  On the surface, this seems like an easy game for the Giants.  They have two weeks of preparation and face possibly the worst team in the league.  But you never want your team to go into a game with a false sense of security, especially in a league as unpredictable as the NFL.  That's why Tom Coughlin has been keeping his team sharp and telling them not to take the Dolphins lightly

The New York Daily News thought that was a silly idea on Coughlin's part.  The back cover of this morning's edition basically declared the Giants victors while mocking the Dolphins.  Did the editors see what happened in Jacksonville just this Monday?  The 1-5 Jaguars topped the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens.  The Giants even lost to a lesser team, the Seattle Seahawks, just a few weeks ago.  No team is safe in the NFL, and it seems to be more true for teams coming off their bye weeks this season.

With two weeks and 12 teams as a sample size this year, teams are 3-9 after their bye weeks.  After two weeks, teams coming off their byes last season were 5-3 and were 6-2 in 2009.  Teams were 20-12 after their byes last year, and 16-16 in 2009.  Why are teams struggling all of a sudden with an extra week off?

One theory is the newest rule regarding consecutive days off during bye weeks.  Teams are now required to go four straight days without practice during the off-week.  NFL.com columnist Michael Lombardi spoke to a Chicago radio station about how that rule might potentially impact the Bears, who have their bye this week:

With the new rules in the NFL, players will now receive four consecutive days off during their bye week — something Lombardi believes will ultimately be a negative factor.

“Teams are 3-9 coming off the bye week which is not typical,” Lombardi said. “Typically, you’d like to work on some of the area where (you’ve had trouble). The Bears, for example, have had trouble tackling from the safety position. They’ve had trouble giving up big runs. You’d like to work on those areas in your time. To me, the biggest concern is you give players four consecutive days off. And as we know, when you give players four consecutive days off during the season, it’s never really good.”

It's hard to argue against the results thus far.  Another answer might be the quality of teams that have had bye weeks so far.  During week six, teams went 1-5 after their byes.  The combined record of those teams (Baltimore, Miami, Washington, St. Louis, Dallas, and Cleveland) was 10-14.  The record of the teams that went 2-4 the last week (San Diego, Kansas City, Seattle, Tennessee, Denver, and Arizona) was 13-17.  That's 23-31 overall, and not a strong representative of the upper echelon of the league.

The combined record of the teams coming off their byes this week (Giants, Buffalo, New England, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Cincinnati) is 24-12.  Those six teams have more wins than the previous 12 teams coming off their byes did.  It stands to reason that these six teams have a much better chance of reversing this losing trend based on their season-long performance.  But it is the NFL, where strange things happen every week.  These teams could go 6-0 and stop everyone from talking about the "bye week struggles" or continue to flounder and keep the conversation going. 

Either way, we are only two weeks into this experiment, and like every good experiment we have a control group set to play this weekend.  If these teams with a .667 winning percentage fail to win after their extra week off, then I might worry about the new bye week rules.    

Let CHARGED get you tickets to see the New York Giants take on the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

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