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September 24, 2014 at 8:57 PM

A few thoughts on the Seahawks and bye weeks

As the Seahawks get into the heart of their bye week, I thought I’d address a c0uple common questions about byes (I’d say answer, but I’ll admit up front I’m not sure I have those in any definitive manner):

1. Why do the Seahawks have such an early bye?

The NFL has no real hard-and-fast formula for divvying out byes other than attempting to rotate them a bit — teams that have an early bye one year tend to get a later one the next. But other than that, there isn’t necessarily a big rhyme-or-reason to it. As noted in the blog post last night on the TV schedule, there are a lot of moving parts to all of this and making everybody happy is hard to do.

But each of the six teams that have week four byes this year (the earliest a team can have a bye) had byes in week nine or later last season (the latest a team can have a bye is week 12). Those six teams are: Denver (which last year had a bye in week 9), Arizona (week 9), St.  Louis (week 11), Cleveland (week 10), Cincinnati (week 12) and Seattle (which last year had its bye in week 12).

2. Does it matter much if a team has an early or late bye in terms of the success of the season?

The conventional wisdom, of course, is that a late bye is better than an early bye because players can benefit more later in the year from a week off to rest various bumps and bruises.

But there’s no real evidence to suggest it matters much.

I found this breakdown of every Super Bowl team from 2002-2010 and when they had a bye, and you can see it doesn’t appear that when a team had its bye had much to do with the success it went on to have (and it’s interesting to see that the Patriots got a week three bye in 2004 when they were the defending Super Bowl champs (and back when teams could get a bye that early).

The Patriots probably complained about that, but it obviously didn’t matter in the end.

To take that chart further, here are the bye weeks of the last three Super Bowl champs — Seattle (12), Baltimore (week 8) and the Giants (week 7).

Seattle’s byes have been all over the place the last few years, as I’m sure is true of every team — week 11 in 2012, week 6 in 2011, week 5 in 2010, week 7 in 2009, week 4 in 2008, week 8 in 2007, week 6 in 2006 and week 8 in 2005, the other time the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl. They’ve tended to be better in some of the years they had the later bye, but I’d be hard-pressed to say that was the reason. I think it’s just sort of how it’s worked out.

What there is some evidence to back up is that teams play better the week after they have a bye. Here’s a breakdown showing that since 2008 teams coming off byes are 87-67-2 the following week.

Seattle is 2-2 under Pete Carroll, But three of those games came on the road, in which Seattle went 1-2, which is probably¬† more meaningful than having come off of a bye. Seattle won big after its bye last year, a 34-7 win on Monday night over New Orleans. The bye may have helped, but not sure I’d say it was the reason.

What tends to matter more is if a team that does not have a bye plays a team coming off of a bye.

In that regard, the Seahawks caught a break this year, as this story from ProFootballTalk points out, noting that Seattle is one of just 10 teams that won’t play a team coming off of a bye.

The closest thing Seattle has to that is its next game at Washington. While Seattle has the week off, Washington will have the weekend off, playing the Giants Thursday night before then hosting Seattle Monday, Oct. 6.





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