Ever since the NFL introduced the "bye week," it has become familiar to hear handicappers talk about teams gaining an advantage for the upcoming game.
The reasoning behind why a team off a bye week might have the better of it include such notions as:
Being well rested: The bye team has had nearly two weeks in most cases to heal from the inevitable injuries that occur during a season. The break allows players to rest and recharge.
Extra preparation time: Top NFL coaches can be lethal with an extra week to scout their opposition and devise game plans. One would think that the extra week should allow for a better understanding of what works against a particular opponent.
Additional practice time: Players battling injuries may not practice much during the week, but with the bye can be expected to get more snaps. The bye also creates some freedom to experiment with new schemes.
Better mindset: Each of the 16 games counts for so much that players can quickly lose perspective after a tough loss or a great win. Getting the team fully motivated is an important part of the coaching staff’s job. The extra week can get the players to the right level of “being pumped.”
The contrary view is that so much attention is focused on teams coming off a bye, there is likely to be some value going against them.
Here are some results for a bye team ATS in the week after the bye facing an opponent that played the previous week.
The off win/loss refers to the team’s last game prior the bye, and the W-L columns are based on a team’s season to date win-loss record coming into the game.
Overall, the bye week has little influence over spread results. Teams off a bye have covered a near-normal 48% of the time. However, teams off a bye that are home favorites have been poor plays (28-44 or 39%).
Home favorites off a loss are particularly suspect. Underdogs on the other hand are quite respectable off the loss at 34-24 (59%).
From this we can formulate two postulates for wagering purposes:
Play against a home favorite off a bye and play an underdog off a loss and a bye.
Betting against home favorites produced a 19-14 (58%) record, while backing all underdogs off a loss was 21-14 (60%).
Last year, laying against home favorites off a bye yielded a 6-2 record. Wagering on underdogs off a loss and a bye were 4-4.
There’s some merit then to using the “back from a bye” factor in your handicapping analysis, only not the way you would have thought.
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Type ALL Off WIN Off LOSS >50% W-L <50% W-L
All Plays 91-100 44-53 47-47 50-61 41-39
Favorite 45-60 32-37 13-23 37-46 8-14
Underdog 46-40 12-16 34-24 13-15 33-25
Home 48-58 24-29 24-29 26-39 22-19
Away 43-42 20-24 23-18 24-22 19-20
Home Fav. 28-44 19-24 9-20 22-33 6-11