NFL Bye Weeks
All sports offer their athletes breaks from the grind of athletic competition. The MLB, NBA, and NHL all have All-Star breaks that give players and teams a break from the grind of the regular season which in the world of American football is commonly referred NFL bye weeks.
The NFL does have the Pro Bowl, which showcases the top talent in the league that year, but this game is played after the conclusion on the NFL Playoffs, just before the Super Bowl.
The NFL game is the most physical of all the major sports. When the league instituted a 17-week regular season in the early 90s, it gave teams one week off to rest, which became known as the NFL bye week. Bye weeks take place between Week 4 and Week 11, with a specific number of teams resting during those weeks.
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Less Downtime due to Thursday Night Football
In recent years, the NFL has also introduced Thursday Night Football. These Thursday games were instituted for Week 10 and later initially, but after a few years, the league made these a fixture for each week of the regular season.
The recovery time from an NFL game can take several days, and many players have complained about Thursday Night stating that their bodies weren’t ready for competition after playing on the previous Sunday. Handicapping won’t change much for these Thursday contests because both teams are coming off short rest.
However, teams playing on Thursday night do gain the advantage of extra rest for the following week. Instead of 6 days off before their next game, which is a typical NFL week, they can rest for nine days (or 10 if they play on Monday Night) before game action.
Therefore, both bye weeks and teams coming off a Thursday night games are something that bettors should consider when handicapping the weekly NFL slate. There are several scenarios that bettors need to look at when evaluating a team after a bye week or extended rest.
Above Average Teams
Some may think bye weeks in NFL may not be a good thing for teams that are playing excellent football and beating their opponents handily. This doesn’t seem to be true, particularly when it comes to above-average and elite teams. The better the team, the more the bye week benefits them.
They have the ability to rest their starters and continue to fine tune their winning formula through practice time. They also have extra time to prepare for their opponent, which is precious for a talented team and coaching staff.
While we advise bettors to generally bet more underdogs than favorites, especially at recreational sportsbooks where NFL lines are often shaded, but this is one spot where bettors should look to target favorites. Hence, NFL bye week betting strategy is something worth considering.
Good teams do especially well off bye weeks when they are on the road. Road favorites are a classic public wager, but coming off NFL bye week they become a sharper bet.
A study done by TheGreek.com has road favorites coming off a bye hitting at 74.5% clip. A good strategy with these bets is to hit them immediately when the line opens hoping to grab an excellent price before the market moves.
Winless or Poor Teams After NFL Bye Week
Although this scenario may seem like a rare one for bettors, there are usually several teams that are winless before their bye week. Remember, bye weeks begin in Week 4, and there will be likely a few franchises without a win at that time.
The bye week gives these downtrodden teams a bit more time to prepare for their opponents and make adjustments to figure out what has gone wrong so far. Of course, the danger with weak teams is that their adjustments won’t be enough, or they will make the wrong kind of changes. They also may just not have the talent or coaching staff to compete with their opponent after the bye.
This play makes a lot more sense if the winless team is playing at home after their bye week, but it isn’t a requirement. Bettors should handicap winless teams coming off their bye on a case by case basis.
Remember, these lowly teams don’t have to win the game for us to win our wager. They only need to cover the point spread.
Injury Issues and Fatigue
The NFL, from a purely physical perspective, is one of the toughest sports in the world, if not the toughest. Even aside from injuries, the fatigue of the season takes a toll on players. The bye week for NFL team is an excellent time for recovery from the rigors of the season and nurse any nagging injuries.
Any team is going to benefit from the bye, but those with plenty of injury issues can take the time to heal and refresh themselves for the coming week. A week of rest can do wonders for players, especially in the second half of the season.
The Week Before The Bye
Games before the bye week are also something we should focus on as sports bettors. It’s rare that we would want to target underdogs or inferior teams in their game before the bye because they are more likely to go through the motions looking forward to time off.
It’s a different story with favorites, however. These teams will be motivated to finish on a strong note and head into the bye with a well-deserved rest. Well prepared teams will simply take the game before the break more seriously than low caliber franchises.
Final Thoughts On NFL Bye Weeks
Factoring in bye weeks is something that many bettors don’t weigh appropriately or don’t consider altogether when handicapping the NFL. This shouldn’t be a shock, considering the vast majority of football bettors are losing sports gamblers.
The trends explained above are excellent when looking for which type of teams to target when it comes to the longer layoffs teams experience when coming off a bye or a Thursday night contest.
Nevertheless, bettors should look at each time on a case by case basis. The talent of the team, their locker room environment and the minds of the coaches should all be factors, along with their motivations going into the bye.