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Home dogs, away favorites bad bets prior to byes

Oct 8, 2002 5:10 AM

   There are two sides to every story.

   Last time we looked at how teams have historically performed the week after a bye, this go-round we’ll look at how they perform the week before.

   Teams coming back from a bye get a lot of attention from handicappers, with the common perception being that it’s a positive. In fact, there are certain situations where “back from a bye” teams have been horrible bets against the spread.

   On the other hand the fact that a team has a week off coming up is often thought of as inconsequential by handicappers.

   The thinking goes that teams coming off a bye are well rested, healed from injuries, well prepared for the next opponent, and perhaps armed with some new twists in the basic game plan.

   The comparable assortment of factors for a squad with a week off around the corner may include:

   Play through pain: Knowing there is a break ahead might lead players to “grin and bear it” for more than the typical NFL punishment doled out to the body every game, understanding that they will have extra recovery time afterwards.

   Extra pressure to win: A successful midseason coaching change is easier to make when the new coach has two weeks rather than one to install his system. Consequently, coaches on the hot seat may feel its do or die prior to the bye.

   Pressure on struggling starters: It would make sense to make a shift in player roles when there’s extra time to make adjustments. Players looking over their shoulder will want to show up big.

   “Vacation” on upbeat note: Teams without unusual pressure to win a game likely feel better if they win the week before a bye. Players could feel it will lead to a more relaxed attitude during the off-week.

   Home underdogs and away favorites have been bad bets against the spread when they have a bye looming ahead. The outlook for away dogs doesn’t change greatly because of an imminent break in the schedule.

   Here are some theories for wagering purposes:

1.      Play against away favorites prior to a bye

2.      Play against home underdogs off a loss prior to a bye

3.      Consider home favorites off a win prior to a bye

4.      Look to beat home favorites off prior to a week’s break

   In 2001, away favorites were 0-3 prior to a bye, home underdogs were 2-2 off a loss prior to a bye, home favorites off a win prior to a week away were 2-2, and finally home favorites off a loss were 0-2. Putting it all together if we had played the angles as specified, it would have led to a respectable 9-4 record.

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   Records prior to bye week (1991-2000)

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