Patriots coach Bill Belichick says the scheduling of a bye week doesn’t concern him much, since it’s out of his control.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody complain about having a bye week, so whenever it is, that’s when it is,” he said this week.
But with the Patriots having an early bye week this season — they’re off this week after playing just three games — it raises questions about the impact of an early break. Do teams that have struggled figure things out? Do teams on a roll have their momentum slowed?
Generally, the answer is that in the last five seasons, teams have mostly showed their hand by the time they have a bye in Week 4 or 5. Teams that had winning records entering a Week 4 or 5 bye usually continued winning, and teams that were below .500 usually kept on losing.
Of course, there are exceptions:
■ In 2013, the Steelers started 0-4, then went 8-4 after a Week 5 bye. That same year, the Panthers started 1-2, but finished 11-2 and made the playoffs with a 12-4 record.
■ In 2012, the Colts opened 1-2, but went 10-3 the rest of the way.
■ The Browns got off to a 2-2 start in 2011, but managed only two wins after a bye and finished 4-12.
■ The 2011 Redskins were 3-1 heading into a Week 5 bye, but fell to 3-9 after that and missed the playoffs with a 6-10 record.
Thirty-four times in the last five NFL seasons, teams have had their bye in Week 4 or 5.
|Year||Team||Week||Before bye||Before win %||After bye||After win %||Final record|
The Patriots resume their schedule next week against the Cowboys at Dallas. We took a closer look at what the data show about teams having an early bye in the last five seasons:
■ For the first time since 2010, the Patriots have a bye at or before Week 5.
That season, the Patriots started 3-1 — losing, 28-14, to the Jets in Week 2 — before finishing 11-1 in their final 12 games.
The Patriots led the league in scoring five seasons ago — 518 total points and 32.4 points per game — and have started this season on the same note. They have averaged 39.7 points per game and are on pace to score about 636 total.
|2010, before the bye||2015, before the bye|
|Yards gained per game||344.25||450.33|
|Pass yards per game||222||363.33|
|Rush yards per game||122.25||87|
|Yards allowed per game||384.5||370.67|
|Pass yards allowed per game||272.25||314.33|
|Rush yards allowed per game||112.25||117|
Tom Brady led the league in touchdown passes and was fourth in completion percentage in 2010. His numbers before the bye that season are similar to the first three games this year, except that he has yet to throw an interception this fall and has attempted 11 more passes in one fewer game.
|2010, before the bye||2015, before the bye|
In 2010, Brady went on to complete nearly 70 percent of his passes, a number he could surpass this season if he continues to operate with the same poise and precision he has shown through three games. His career-high completion percentage is 68.9 in 2007.
Despite the 2010 Patriots’ regular-season performance, New England was stunned in the divisional playoff game by the Jets, losing, 28-21, at home.
■ Twenty teams have had at least one bye in Weeks 4 or 5 over the last five seasons. Ten of those teams have had an early bye at least twice.
Four teams have had an early bye three times: Dallas, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay.
Those four teams were a combined 16-29 before their bye week and went 76-71 after, for a 92-100 overall combined record.
|Team||Before the bye||After the bye||Overall|
Just once did any of the four teams make the playoffs — the 2010 Steelers, who went 12-4 in the regular season. The 2010 Buccaneers compiled a 10-6 regular-season record, but missed the playoffs.
Five times those teams reached .500.
Of the 10 teams that have had an early bye just once in the last five seasons, only one missed the playoffs — the 2012 Detroit Lions, who were 4-12.
■ Both AFC and NFC teams have a combined record under .500 before the early bye. But the AFC has fared far better after the bye.
Of the 34 schedules with early byes the last five seasons, 12 of those teams made the playoffs — seven from the AFC and five from the NFC. One of those playoff teams — the 2010 Seattle Seahawks — finished the regular season with a losing record. None of the five .500 teams made the playoffs.
■ None of the teams has won the Super Bowl. The closest was last season by the Seahawks, who went 13-3 in the regular season and had a huge comeback against Green Bay in the NFC Championship before falling to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, and the 2010 Steelers, who lost to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
|Team||Year||Bye week||Before the bye||After the bye||Overall||Playoff result|
|CIN||2014||5||3-0||7-5-1||10-5-1||Wild Card loss|
|ARI||2014||4||3-0||8-5||11-5||Wild Card loss|
|SEA||2014||4||2-1||11-2||13-3||Super Bowl loss|
|GB||2013||4||1-2||7-5-1||8-7-1||Wild Card loss|
|IND||2012||4||1-2||10-3||11-5||Wild Card loss|
|BAL||2011||5||3-1||9-3||12-4||AFC Champ loss|
|PIT||2010||5||3-1||9-3||12-4||Super Bowl loss|