In this blog entry I will be taking a brief look at how teams have done coming off the bye week.  All data is from pfref.com, all from the regular season 1999-2016.  It should come as no surprise teams coming off a bye week will have an overall winning record, but how significant is this advantage?

The overall record of teams coming off the bye week is 301-266-3 (.531), but bear in mind some of them will be facing teams also coming off a bye week of their own.  So, there is a real advantage to having the previous week off.  Why?  Extra rest surely plays a part.  I think the big thing is probably players who are dealing with injuries will have that extra week to heal, and some of these players might have had to sit out the week had it not been for the bye.

Which side of the ball benefits more?  offense or defense?  Hard to say, so let’s go to the stats.  In games coming off the bye the teams had 831 TD passes versus 518 INT’s, a ratio of 1.60 TD’s per INT.  Their opponents (some of whom might have also been coming off byes of their own) had 790 TD’s versus 588 INT’s, a ratio of 1.34 TD’s per INT.  In all the games during this era (whether coming off a bye or not coming off a bye) the TD:INT ratio was 1.42.

To recap:

Coming off bye: TD:INT ratio = 1.60
Opponent TD:INT ratio = 1.34
All games TD:INT ratio = 1.42

It could be the quarterbacks’ arms were more sore when not coming off the bye, but I doubt that is the case.  More likely, the defense was getting better pass pressure.  Let’s look at the sack numbers next.

The team coming off the bye had its quarterback get sacked 0.0676 times per pass attempt.  It sacked its opponent .0690 times per pass attempt.  The overall rate of sacks per attempt in all games (whether coming off a bye or not coming off a bye) was .0683 sacks per pass attempt.  The quarterbacks least under pressure were the ones whose teams were coming off the bye week, and the ones under the most pressure were those opponents facing those teams coming off the bye week.  Given 32 average pass attempts per game this works out to 2.228 sacks per game versus 2.276 for the opponent as compared to 2.251 for all games.  Doesn’t seem like that big a difference, but it adds up over time.  And, of course, there are other factors besides just improved pass rush.

Finally, let’s take a look at the running game.  Teams coming off the bye week averaged 4.23 yards per carry, their opponents: 4.09 yards per carry.  In all games, the average was 4.15 yards per carry.

So, is it a bigger advantage for the defense or for the offense when coming off a bye?  I don’t know the answer.  Seems to be advantageous for both sides of the ball.  Pass defense and run defense are both clearly better coming off the bye week, but pass offense and run offense are also both clearly better.  Teams are just better with that week of rest.

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