Key systems, trends surround bye weeks

By Steve Makinen  () 

While it might seem that the NFL season has just started, we are already talking about teams getting their bye weeks. Detroit and Green Bay will take their byes in Week 5, meaning they are playing their pre-bye games this weekend. Thus, those two teams’ pre-bye trends will apply to their upcoming games. The Packers, off to a hot start, square off Monday night against the explosive Falcons. Detroit will host New Orleans on Sunday.


Over the years that I’ve spent studying NFL data, I’ve found that one of the most important scheduling situations involves the weeks before and after byes. They affect routines, momentum and injury availability. Historically, some franchises and coaches have been very good dealing with bye weeks, others not. Furthermore, some teams’ performance levels vary greatly going into the bye as opposed to coming out. Various bye-week scenarios can make for golden wagering opportunities.


This week I am addressing pre-bye trends and systems. In two weeks I will discuss post-bye trends and systems. Because bye weeks spread over the next two months and the trends will apply at various times through that period, I recommend saving these reports for your reference.


Why do I believe the bye week has such an impact? Every April brings excitement when the schedule is announced. Analysts break down the big matchups, each team’s quirks and seemingly every little intricacy on the 17-week slate. But certain situations can wreak havoc. The NFL is a routine-driven league, and anything that can break that routine can offer bettors opportunities. Whether it’s long stretches of road or home games, contests scheduled on days other than Sundays, or night games versus day games, these scheduling land mines can be used to find betting value if you understand their consequences. But if one scheduling situation is most influential, it is the bye week. Each team gets one. Where it is placed and how the teams react in and out of the bye can often make a difference of one or two wins. That can affect whether a team makes the playoffs. Clearly, the three-week period involving a team’s bye — in, off, out — is huge.


Here are five leaguewide pre-bye systems you’ll want to take advantage of over the next couple of months.


Pre-bye system No. 1

Play Over the total in Monday night games featuring a team heading into its bye. (Record: 25-6 since ’09, 80.6%, + 26.7 units, 59.4% ROI, Grade 75)

2020 plays: 10/5 Green Bay, 10/12 New Orleans, 11/16 Chicago


Pre-bye system No. 2

Play on any team heading into its bye when facing a divisional opponent, assuming that opponent is not also heading into its bye. (Record: 31-10 ATS since ’13, 75.6%, + 19.9 units, 48.5% ROI, Grade 75)

2020 plays: 10/11 Kansas City, 10/18 Tennessee, 10/25 Arizona, 10/25 Denver, 10/25 Washington, 11/1 Philadelphia, 11/8 L.A. Chargers, 11/15 N.Y. Giants, 11/16 Chicago


Pre-bye system No. 3

Play on double-digit favorites heading into their byes. (Record: 17-0 SU and 12-5 ATS since ’09, 70.6%, + 6.5 units, 38.2% ROI, Grade 62)

Potential 2020 plays: 10/11 New England, 10/11 Seattle, 10/12 New Orleans, 10/18 Indianapolis, 10/25 Baltimore, 11/8 Kansas City 


Pre-bye system No. 4

Play on any team heading into its bye and facing Denver. (Record: 17-7 SU and 19-5 ATS since ’01, 79.2%, + 13.5 units, 56.3% ROI, Grade 65)

2020 plays: 10/11 New England, 11/8 Atlanta


Pre-bye system No. 5

Play on any team heading into its bye with a Monday night road game. (Record: 20-10 SU and 21-9 ATS since ’96, 70%, + 11.1 units, 37% ROI, Grade 62)

2020 plays: None


These systems and the following trends are for only the regular-season schedule, not the playoffs. 


ARIZONA (pre-bye game 10/25 vs. Seattle)

Arizona is on a 4-0 SU and ATS run in pre-bye games at home.

— The Cardinals are on a 3-1 Under-the-total run in pre-bye games versus divisional rivals.


ATLANTA (pre-bye game 11/8 vs. Denver)

Atlanta has gone just 2-6 SU and 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight pre-bye games, with coach Dan Quinn now 0-4-1 ATS.

— The Falcons have gone Under the total in six straight pre-bye games, scoring just 18.5 PPG.


BALTIMORE (pre-bye game 10/25 vs. Pittsburgh)

Baltimore is 0-3 SU and ATS in its last three pre-bye games vs. Pittsburgh.

— The Ravens are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight pre-bye games overall.


BUFFALO (pre-bye game 11/15 at Arizona)

The Bills are 4-3 SU and 4-2-1 ATS in their last seven pre-bye games after losing their previous 14 outright.

— Buffalo is on a run of 10-2 Over the total in pre-bye games but did go Under last year.

— The Bills are 0-6 SU and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six pre-bye games vs. NFC foes.


CAROLINA (pre-bye game 11/29 at Minnesota)

The Panthers are on a stretch of 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS in pre-bye games.

— Carolina has gone Over the total in five straight pre-bye games, scoring 37.7 PPG.


CHICAGO (pre-bye game Monday 11/16 vs. Minnesota)

Chicago has won four of its last five pre-bye games at home, both SU and ATS.

— Six of the Bears’ last eight pre-bye games went Over the total, with an average combined score of 55 PPG.


CINCINNATI (pre-bye game 11/1 vs. Tennessee)

Cincinnati has been a solid pre-bye team over the last decade-plus, going 8-3-1 SU and 8-4 ATS, but did lose last year.

— The Bengals are on a 5-0 SU and ATS pre-bye winning streak versus non-divisional AFC foes.


CLEVELAND (pre-bye game 11/1 vs. Las Vegas)

Cleveland is on a 2-7 SU and ATS slide in pre-bye games, including 2-5 SU and ATS at home.


DALLAS (pre-bye game 11/8 vs. Pittsburgh)

Dallas was just 3-6 SU and ATS in pre-bye games under Jason Garrett, including 1-4 SU and ATS at home.

— Coach Mike McCarthy is 9-2 Over the total in his last 11 pre-bye games, with a combined score of 55.1 PPG.


DENVER (pre-bye game 10/25 vs. Kansas City)

Denver is 9-4 SU and ATS in its last 13 pre-bye home games.

— The Broncos are on a 6-1 Over-the-total run in pre-bye games vs. divisional rivals.


DETROIT (pre-bye week 10/4 vs. New Orleans)

Detroit is on a 4-1-1 ATS stretch in pre-bye games as a home underdog.

— The Lions are on an 8-2 Over run at home in pre-bye games, with an average combined score of 50.2 PPG.


GREEN BAY (pre-bye game Monday 10/5 vs. Atlanta)

The Packers are on a 9-0 SU and 6-3 ATS run as a pre-bye favorite of 4.5 points or more.

— Green Bay is on an 0-4 ATS slide in pre-bye Monday night games.


HOUSTON (pre-bye game 10/25 vs. Green Bay)

Houston is on a 5-0 SU and ATS winning streak in pre-bye games.

— The Texans are 4-1 Under the total in their last five pre-bye games, yielding just 11.2 PPG.


INDIANAPOLIS (pre-bye game 10/18 vs. Cincinnati)

Indianapolis is on a 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS run in pre-bye games.

— The Colts are on a 6-0 ATS winning streak vs. non-divisional AFC foes in pre-bye games.


JACKSONVILLE (pre-bye game 10/18 vs. Detroit)

The Jaguars are on a 3-0 Under-the-total run in pre-bye games, with a combined average score of 32.7 PPG.

— Jacksonville has lost its last four pre-bye games versus NFC foes by an average of 22.5 PPG.


KANSAS CITY (pre-bye game 11/8 vs. Carolina)

Kansas City is 3-0-1 Over the total in its last four pre-bye games at home.

— The Chiefs are 2-7 SU and 3-5-1 ATS in their last nine pre-bye games vs. NFC foes.


LAS VEGAS (pre-bye game 10/11 at Kansas City)

Coach Jon Gruden is 11-3 SU and 9-4-1 ATS in pre-bye games.

— The Raiders are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 pre-bye games vs. AFC West rivals.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (pre-bye game 11/8 vs. Las Vegas)

The Chargers have lost six straight pre-bye games ATS.

— Los Angeles is on a 6-1 Under-the-total run in pre-bye games, scoring just 16.7 PPG.

— The Chargers are on a 9-3 ATS streak versus AFC West rivals in pre-bye games but did lose last year.


LOS ANGELES RAMS (pre-bye game 11/1 at Miami)

The Rams are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in pre-bye games under coach Sean McVay.

— Los Angeles is  just 3-8 SU and 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 pre-bye road games.


MIAMI (pre-bye game 11/15 vs. New York Jets)

Miami is 3-6 SU and 2-7 ATS in its last nine pre-bye games.

— The Dolphins are 1-3 SU and ATS in their last four pre-bye games vs. the Jets.


MINNESOTA (pre-bye game 10/18 vs. Atlanta)

Minnesota has been one of the league’s best pre-bye teams over the last decade-plus, going 10-1 SU and ATS.

— The Vikings have scored at least 24 points in seven straight pre-bye home games, going 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS.


NEW ENGLAND (pre-bye game 10/11 vs. Denver)

New England has lost back-to-back pre-bye games SU and ATS after winning nine straight.

— The Patriots are on a 4-0 SU and ATS winning streak at home in pre-bye games.


NEW ORLEANS (pre-bye game Monday 10/12 vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

The Saints have gone 11-3 SU and 10-4 ATS in pre-bye games since coach Sean Payton took over in 2006.

— New Orleans has won six straight pre-bye games at home while going 5-1 ATS, scoring 33.8 PPG.


NEW YORK GIANTS (pre-bye game 11/15 vs. Philadelphia)

The Giants have lost three straight pre-bye games, both SU and ATS.

— New York is 3-1 SU and ATS in four pre-bye games vs. Philadelphia since ’93.


NEW YORK JETS (pre-bye game 11/15 at Miami)

The Jets have lost their last four pre-bye games while going 1-3 ATS and scoring just 10 PPG.

— New York is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 pre-bye road games.


PHILADELPHIA (pre-bye game 11/1 vs. Dallas)

The Eagles are on a solid 9-3 SU and ATS run in pre-bye games.

— Philadelphia is on a 5-0 SU and ATS surge in pre-bye home games, allowing 11.2 PPG.


PITTSBURGH (pre-bye game 10/25 at Baltimore)

Pittsburgh is 5-0 Under the total in its last five pre-bye games, allowing 17.8 PPG.

— The Steelers have won their last three pre-bye games, all on the road.


SAN FRANCISCO (pre-bye game 11/15 at New Orleans)

San Francisco has gone 7-2 ATS in its last nine pre-bye road games but hasn’t played one since 2014.

— The 49ers are on a 3-0 Over-the-total surge in pre-bye games vs. NFC foes, allowing 27.7 PPG.


SEATTLE (pre-bye game 10/11 vs. Minnesota)

Seattle is on a nine-game SU pre-bye winning streak while going 8-1 ATS.

— The Seahawks have gone 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS at home in pre-bye games since ’99.


TAMPA BAY (pre-bye game 11/29 vs. Kansas City)

Tampa Bay is just 2-9 ATS in its last 11 pre-bye games.

— The Buccaneers are on a 1-6 SU and ATS slide in pre-bye games at home but haven’t played one since 2015.


TENNESSEE (pre-bye game 10/18 vs. Houston)

The Titans have been a big Over team at home in pre-bye games, going 10-2 on totals in their last 12.

— Tennessee divisional pre-bye games have also gone Over in seven of the last eight. 


WASHINGTON (pre-bye game 10/25 vs. Dallas)

Washington has gone Over the total in five of its last six pre-bye games but did go Under last year.

— Dating to ’92, Washington is 7-5 SU but 3-9 ATS in pre-bye home games.

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