2016 NFL Bye Weeks
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Week 4: Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 5: Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks
Week 6: Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 7: Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys
Week 8: Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers
Week 9: Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins
Week 10: Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders
Week 11: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers
Week 12: None
Week 13: Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans
Bye weeks are now a well-entrenched part of the game. That's why we have a 17-week NFL season, but only 16 regular season games. Every team gets a week off during the NFL season, as teams are able to rest their weary bones. It's a valued time of the season, where players can refresh their bodies, while coaches retool their plans. For teams on a hot streak, however, the bye week may not be welcomed with open arms.
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When betting on the NFL, bettors tend to give teams a little extra juice if they are coming off the bye week. Being more rested than the other team gives bettors the ammo they need to take the team coming off the bye. But again, we're not very likely to outsmart the bookie, at least not with something as obvious as bye weeks. The bookie makes the adjustments and has turned blindly picking teams coming off the bye a play that isn't profitable. Cases must be taken individually. There are times when a bye week can really help. Perhaps a key player got healthy. Or coaches really came up with a good game-plan with the extra time off. It can make a difference, but not one that the bookies are likely to ignore.
It's just not any kind of cure-all. Teams that are good will be good after the bye. Teams struggling for foothold are not likely to find a ton of relief in the bye week. Each team needs to be looked at individually. And maybe between the lines, you can find small edges within the bye week dynamic that could tip the scales slightly in your favor. It's not likely to make an earth-shattering difference, however.
See how the team coming off the bye compares with the opponent. While the team is well-rested, it will only resonate in an appreciable way if the other team is a bit worn out. Maybe a team coming off the bye is facing an opponent on Sunday that is coming off a draining Monday Night Football game. Or maybe the opponent is also sagging and can really use a bye week. The rested team could theoretically have an advantage. Again, that's likely to be reflected in the point spread, taking the value of the play.
Teams approaching their bye week usually play with some urgency. There are a lot of walks of life where we try a little bit harder, knowing we have a break coming up. Teams like to carry good momentum into their two week break. No one wants to lose and have the stink from that loss wafting for two whole weeks, until that team has a chance to make amends. Teams heading into the bye week could spike slightly in their form. Then again, bad teams aren't going to become good and good ones will likely still be good. In other words, it can make a difference. But do we go nuts and put all kinds of stock into these details? No. Or at least we shouldn't.
We still have to acknowledge the positive aspects of rest, especially in a draining sport like football. A lot of these guys have been banging around for months by the time the bye week comes around. This also applies mentally, where a lot of players are a bit tired. Sometimes you see a good team fall into a funk, with the bye week recharging their batteries and allowing them to recapture their prior form. Players and coaches can step away from the madness for a moment and recharge their batteries for the final stretch run.
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For bad teams, the equation is a little stickier. A bye week can help, as players reflect on what they're doing wrong, while coaches contemplate possible adjustments to make to get a leg up. Unfortunately for bad teams, it takes a lot more than a little rest to make much of a difference. A few changes can be made, but it's not likely to have a massive impact on a team in an overall sense. A bye week can affect momentum—whether good or bad. A team that maybe just found something a few weeks before and started winning will likely not welcome the bye week. Again, we need to assess each situation individually.
We just need to remember that bye weeks are a part of overall football handicapping. We do not want to allow our analysis of the impact of bye weeks to drive our handicapping. A lot of amateur bettors see the bye week and it takes on too much of a sense of importance in their heads. We want to acknowledge it and if we can figure something out about the bye week that helps us, we should use it. But only when it supports other facets of our handicapping, should we really use it in any kind of substantive way.
To read more on this subject, go here.