fb-pixelThe later the bye week, the better the Patriots like it - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

The later the bye week, the better the Patriots like it

With more than half of the regular season complete, the Patriots are ready to hit the ground running after the bye week.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Bye weeks are all about timing. As a player, Lawrence Guy prefers the off week to come later in the season.

“Maybe Week 10-ish? Week 11?” he said, shaking his hand to feel out an approximation.

Too early in the season and a bye can feel pointless.

“The bye week is meant to recover,” he said. “You have a bye week in Week 3, you know, that sucks.”

In theory, the bye is supposed to be a chance to reset and refresh. So getting a week off late in the year not only gives players a chance to power cycle, but it forces them to lock in, knowing there’s no more downtime with the rest of the season in front of them.


“When you have a later bye week, you’ve got that time to recover from the season you just played and then you can come off a little bit fresher,” Guy said, “Not like if you came off a bye in Week 3 and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m already fresh. What am I doing?’ This is a time to recover, understand, regroup, and get it going again.”

By Guy’s logic, the Patriots’ bye last week couldn’t have come at a better time. They were 5-4, last in the AFC East. But history says the Patriots play some of their best football after a week to reset.

The Patriots have won 15 times in 22 tries coming off a bye week under Bill Belichick.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots are 15-7 coming off a bye in the regular season. They average 26.3 points per game after a bye and hold teams to 17.

The bye week has fallen on Week 10 more times than any other week of the season (5). They’ve taken full advantage, going 4-1 in games following a Week 10 bye.

In fact, the later the bye the better for the Patriots. If a bye falls on or after Week 10, they’re 6-2 in the following game. More than that, coming out of a late-season bye week, the Patriots generally find their stride. They’re 39-12 in all games after a bye in Week 10 or later.


Guy got his first look at how the Patriots use the bye week in 2017, his first season in New England after signing as a free agent. As much as an extra week allows Belichick to study an opponent, it also gives the Patriots more time to evaluate themselves.

“You self-scout, see what you’ve done good, what you’ve done bad as a team and as an individual,” Guy said.

The Patriots were 6-2 going into a Week 9 bye in 2017. They were on a four-game winning streak with two weeks to prepare for a matchup in Denver, which had lost four straight. The Pats pummeled the Broncos, 41-16, and went on to win seven of their final eight regular-season games.

Like Lawrence Guy, Devin McCourty is a fan of a late bye week.Elsa/Getty

Devin McCourty felt the same way about the bye then that Guy does now.

“I hate when it’s Week 4,” McCourty said in 2017. “That’s just too soon and then it just makes the whole second half of your season just so long. I think it’s good, especially for us from a football standpoint. When you have eight games to break down and say, ‘This is what we did well. This is what we didn’t do well. We need to do this better.’”

For Matt Judon, who came to New England in 2021 after spending five seasons in Baltimore, Belichick’s track record speaks for itself.


“I think Coach Belichick is just a cerebral coach,” said Judon. “That’s why that’s his record after bye weeks. he kind of gets some extra time on a team and just schemes them up. When you give somebody like him a lot of time for an opponent, he usually has a better record than not.”

It’s rare for the Patriots to lose more games than they win after a bye week. It’s only happened three times under Belichick (2002, 2020, 2021). But the past two seasons have been departures from the norm. The Patriots were 15-5 after the bye in 20 seasons before Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay in 2019. But they’ve lost each of the past two games they’ve played after a bye week since he left.

In 2020, they were 2-2, coming off a loss to the Chiefs before a bye in Week 5. They came out of the week off and lost 18-12 to the Broncos as they went 5-7 the rest of the way. In 2021, they were 9-4 going into a bye, lost to the Colts, 27-17, lost three of their last four games, and then their playoff game.

If Judon could choose which week the bye would fall, his answer would be easy.

“The first round of the playoffs,” he said. “I would like to have a bye.”

Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.