Recent betting trends show a dwindling advantage for NFL teams coming off the bye week
Week 7 of the season is the first week where NFL teams are coming off of a bye. The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets Jets and San Francisco 49ers all were off in Week 6 and that off week is bound to help some squads. The 49ers (-4), Saints (-3.5), and Falcons (-2) are all favorites in their Week 7 games, while not-surprisingly, the Jets are 7 point dogs when they travel to New England on Sunday.
Teams coming off a bye week are often given a handicapping edge in the game immediately following their break. It makes sense as players on teams coming off the bye will have fresher legs and nagging injuries have some time to heal up a bit. Bye weeks also give teams a chance to reassess and tweak game plans that may or may not have worked prior to the week off. But not so fast, the recent data shows that in several situations teams don't really get any edge.
In fact, teams coming off a bye win against the spread (ATS) at a rate of 55% over the last 10 years. Not exactly a huge advantage, but still enough of a lean to warrant a deeper look at this week's games.
Last season, teams went 17-15 straight up and 14-18 against the spread in their first game after the bye. In the last three seasons, teams are 44-52 SU and 41-53-2 ATS. Since 2002, when the bye week was introduced, home favorites have gone 78-66-2 and home dogs are just above .500. Meanwhile road teams win against the spread at a rate of over 58%, regardless of favorite or dog.
This week the three teams are on the road after their week off. The Jets are heading to New England and are 7 point underdogs. The hapless Jets are quite healthy, while the Patriots have several players who got nicked up last Sunday. New England has also has had a tough time scoring behind rookie Mac Jones, ranking 24th in points, and have relied heavily on their defense, which is 9th overall in points allowed. The bad news for Jets fans is they are dead last in the NFL in scoring with just 13.4 PPG. Hard to back the Jets off a bye with those numbers.
The New Orleans Saints are one of the better teams off of the bye week, going 4-1 in the last five seasons. They head to Seattle to take on the Russell Wilson-less Seahawks as three point favorites on Monday night. Wilson is not the only Seahawk in IR, as last week they lost top running back Chris Carson to a neck injury. Despite the vaunted reputation for playing at Seattle, it's awful hard to even think about a Seahawks victory with Geno Smith starting under center. Add in the road team, bye week angle and the Saints look like a strong bet at -3.
Atlanta is looking to get to .500 and they face a Miami Dolphins squad that is in disarray after losing to Jacksonville in a heartbreaker last weekend in London. The Fish are just 1-5 after a 10 win season in 2020. They are a long way from going over the 9 win pre-season total set by bookmakers. The Falcons won 2 out of three heading into the bye. The Dolphins are three points favorites at home, which is a bit surprising after losing five straight.
The lone home team coming off the bye is the San Francisco 49ers. They host the Indianapolis Colts, who are riding high after crushing the Texans at home. The Niners are one of the teams that really needed the bye week, hoping to answer many questions from the first five games. And big questions too, like who is the QB?
Kyle Shannan has gotten some deserved heat as the 49ers lost three straight before the week off and they are in the toughest division in the NFL. The Niners will have to play like the season depends on a win versus the resurging Colts, who appear to have found their footing. The Colts offensive line is banged up and as mentioned above, the 49ers have a quarterback controversy. So, both teams want to win with their defense and ball control. This game shapes up to go under the current total of 44, one of the lowest of the week.
This is the first bye week of the 2021 NFL season and according to trends, blindly betting the team coming off a bye is not a winning angle.