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Analyzing NFL pre-bye systems

While it might seem that the NFL season has just started, we are already talking about teams taking their bye weeks. In fact, four teams — Atlanta, New Orleans, the New York Jets and San Francisco — already will be taking their byes in Week 6, meaning they are playing their pre-bye games this weekend. The Falcons and Jets will square off Sunday in London, while the Saints are at Washington and the 49ers are at Arizona. Thus, those teams’ pre-bye trends will be applicable this weekend. 
In the years I’ve studied NFL data, I’ve found that one of the most important scheduling situations involves the weeks before and after teams’ bye weeks. They are important because they affect routines, momentum and players’ injury availability. Historically, some franchises and coaches have been very good in dealing with byes, others not. Furthermore, some teams’ performance levels have varied greatly when going into the bye week as opposed to coming out. That means bye-week scenarios can make for golden wagering opportunities.
With a 17th game on the schedule, the byes have been pushed back later than usual. This should enhance the benefit of the bye even more than usual since the further it is into the season, the more coaches and players typically appreciate a bye. In fact, several bye weeks fall in December this season. Keep all of this mind as you analyze each team’s situation.
In two weeks I will follow up with a report on post-bye-week trends and systems. Since byes span the next two months and the trends will apply at the various times throughout that period, I recommend saving or printing this piece as well as the one in two weeks.
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