Now that the NFL schedules a Thursday night game every week throughout the season (as opposed to Weeks 10 through 16 like in the past), there’s been more discussion about the value of the “mini bye.”
The “mini bye,” as we’ll define it, is when a team has 10 days to prepare for the next week’s opponent following a Thursday night game. This week, the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens are coming off mini byes. The Browns are listed as 8.5-point underdogs at the Giants and the Ravens are 6-point road favorites at Kansas City.
A constant talking point by those who think the winless Browns can compete with the defending Super Bowl champions on the road is that they’ve had extra time to prepare.
But does the added time actually lead to increased success when it comes to covering the spread?
We looked back since 2002, the year the league realigned its divisions, and found the following:
- Overall, teams following Thursday appearances have gone 66-71 straight up and 66-66-5 ATS.
- Teams that LOST (results for next game): 27-42 SU | 37-31-1 ATS (54.4%).
- Teams that WON (results for next game): 39-29 SU | 29-35-4 ATS (45.3%).
As you can see, there’s not much here. The extra rest, while valuable, appears to be overstated and it’s quite possible that it’s already built into the line. Teams coming off a loss are profitable (54.4% ATS), and teams coming off a win have performed subpar (45.3%).
The sample size is admittedly small, but nothing we’ve seen to this point suggests that teams coming off mini byes enjoy a decided advantage in the ensuing game.