Q: I saw this post at The Sports Memo about teams performing terribly against the spread prior to entering a bye week. According to Sports Memo, teams the week before a bye are just 3-11 straight up and 1-13 ATS. Is this a random trend or a possible angle that might be worth looking into some more?
—Tim, from somewhere.
BTB: Thanks for the question. The angle is extremely simple, perhaps among the easiest ones you could possibly dream up, which suggests that oddsmakers in previous years would catch on to this if there were actually something to it. Our take is that it’s nothing more than a random trend, one that has little (if any) predictive quality going forward.
We decided to look up how teams have performed the week before a bye since 2002, the year the NFL realigned its divisions, and actually found that the opposite is true—that teams have historically fared well in this particular situation.
Teams the week before a bye are 213-185 straight up and 209-183-6 ATS, a win rate of 53.3 percent. So, in reality, you would have actually turned a profit over the last decade by backing teams the week before a bye, albeit a fairly small one.
Our suggestion: Treat every game on a case-by-case basis and don’t blindly follow this trend. Each team and situation isn’t created equally. Some teams are looking forward to a bye (bad teams looking to regroup or get healthy), others don’t want it (why disrupt a hot streak?), and there are numerous other variables (some motivational) that need to be considered.
As the old saying goes, “If it were really this easy…”
* * *
Note: The following teams will have a bye next week: St. Louis, New England, New York Jets, San Francisco.