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How does having an early bye week affect NFL teams?

Tom Brady and the Patriots resume their schedule Oct. 11 vs. the Cowboys.
Tom Brady and the Patriots resume their schedule Oct. 11 vs. the Cowboys.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

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.

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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.

Early bye weeks, 2010-2015
Teams with byes in Week 4 or 5. (p) = made playoffs
Year Team Week Before bye Before win % After bye After win % Final record Total win pct.
2014 MIA 5 2-2 .500 6-6 .500 8-8 .500
2014 CIN 5 3-0 1.000 7-5-1 .538 10-5-1 (p) .625
2014 CLE 4 1-2 .333 6-7 .461 7-9 .437
2014 DEN 4 2-1 .666 10-3 .769 12-4 (p) .750
2014 OAK 5 0-4 .000 3-9 .250 3-13 .187
2014 ARI 4 3-0 1.000 8-5 .666 11-5 (p) .733
2014 STL 4 1-2 .333 5-8 .416 6-10 .375
2014 SEA 4 2-1 .666 11-2 .846 13-3 (p) .812
2013 PIT 5 0-4 .000 8-4 .666 8-8 .500
2013 WAS 5 1-3 .250 2-10 .166 3-13 .187
2013 GB 4 1-2 .333 7-5-1 .538 8-7-1 (p) .500
2013 MIN 5 1-3 .250 4-7-1 .333 5-10-1 .312
2013 CAR 4 1-2 .333 11-2 .846 12-4 (p) .750
2013 TB 5 0-4 .000 4-8 .333 4-12 .250
2012 PIT 4 1-2 .333 7-6 .538 8-8 .500
2012 IND 4 1-2 .333 10-3 .769 11-5 (p) .733
2012 OAK 5 1-3 .250 3-9 .250 4-12 .250
2012 DAL 5 2-2 .500 6-6 .500 8-8 .500
2012 DET 5 1-3 .250 3-9 .250 4-12 .250
2012 TB 5 1-3 .250 6-6 .500 7-9 .437
2011 MIA 5 0-4 .000 6-6 .500 6-10 .375
2011 CLE 5 2-2 .500 2-10 .166 4-12 .250
2011 BAL 5 3-1 .750 9-3 .750 12-4 (p) .750
2011 DAL 5 2-2 .500 6-6 .500 8-8 .500
2011 WAS 5 3-1 .750 3-9 .250 6-10 .375
2011 STL 5 0-4 .000 2-10 .166 2-14 .125
2010 NE 5 3-1 .750 11-1 .833 14-2 (p) .875
2010 MIA 5 2-2 .500 5-7 .416 7-9 .437
2010 PIT 5 3-1 .750 9-3 .750 12-4 (p) .750
2010 KC 4 3-0 1.000 7-6 .538 10-6 (p) .625
2010 DAL 4 1-2 .333 5-8 .384 6-10 .375
2010 MIN 4 1-2 .333 5-8 .384 6-10 .375
2010 TB 4 2-1 .666 8-5 .615 10-6 .625
2010 SEA 5 2-2 .500 5-7 .416 7-9 (p) .437
SOURCE: pro-football-reference.com

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.

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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.

Resemblance?
Comparing the Patriots' performance before an early off week in 2010 and this season.
2010, before the bye 2015, before the bye
Points for 32.75 39.67
Points allowed 24 23.33
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
Turnover margin 6+ 3+
Source: pro-football-reference.com

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.

Quarterback's work
Comparing Brady's performance before an early off week in 2010 and this season.
2010, before the bye 2015, before the bye
Cmp 85 96
Att 122 133
Cmp% 69.67 72.2
Yards 911 1112
Touchdowns 9 9
INTs 2 0
Rate 109.0 119.6
Y/A 7.47 8.4
Y/C 10.72 11.6
Y/G 277.75 370.7
Source: pro-football-reference.com

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.

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Team Before the bye After the bye Overall
Pittsburgh 5-6 17-20 22-26
Miami 4-8 17-19 21-27
Dallas 4-7 24-13 28-20
Tampa Bay 3-8 18-19 21-27
Source: pro-football-reference.com

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.

Even it up
Three teams have gone .500 a combined five times over the last five seasons.
Miami
1
Dallas
2
Pittsburgh
2
Source: pro-football-reference.com

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.

How they stack up
Comparing the conferences records before and after the early off week.
AFC before the bye
.466
NFC before the bye
.397
AFC after the bye
.551
NFC after the bye
.451
Source: pro-football-reference.com

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.

Postseason bound?
A look at how many teams with early byes advanced to the playoffs, how many fell short, and where some fell in the middle.
Losing teams that didn't make the playoffs
15
Losing teams that made the playoffs
1
Winning teams that didn't make the playoffs
1
Winning teams that made the playoffs
12
.500 teams, none made the playoffs
5
Source: pro-football-reference.com

■   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.

Falling short
No team with an early bye in the last five years has won the Super Bowl.
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
DEN 2014 4 2-1 10-3 12-4 Divsional 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
CAR 2013 4 1-2 11-2 12-4 Divsional 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
NE 2010 5 3-1 11-1 14-2 Divsional loss
PIT 2010 5 3-1 9-3 12-4 Super Bowl loss
KC 2010 4 3-0 7-6 10-6 Wild Card loss
SEA 2010 5 2-2 5-7 7-9 Divsional loss
Source: pro-football-reference.com

Rachel G. Bowers can be reached at rachel.bowers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @RachelGBowers. Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter @mattpep15.

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