If timed right, a bye week in the NFL can be a welcome relief.
Ideally the bye week lands right when your star players need a week off. Ideally the bye week comes right after you’ve gotten a nice win. Ideally the bye week lands a week before you play someone substantial so that you have an extra week to prepare.
Reality in the NFL is that these ideals rarely reach total fruition. It seems more often than not that the details you want to work your way actually work against you regarding the bye, but that may not totally be the case for the Cowboys this season.
We’ll see Dallas take a week off come Week 8 this season. Byes in the NFL span Weeks 4 through 11 in 2018 so the Cowboys are right smack dab in the middle. That’s fair.
The Cowboys are actually one of six teams to have a unique bye experience this season, too. The team will go through an especially long drought when they are on bye because they don’t return on a Sunday, but on a Monday. Dallas plays the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football in Week 9.
Coincidentally the Titans also have a bye in Week 8. Dallas and Tennessee will each have two whole weeks to prepare for one another. This is also the case for the Colts and Jaguars in Week 10 as well as the Patriots and Jets in Week 12. That’s three instances in a month where teams will share that two-week advantage, two of them being division rivalries.
You would think that because the byes themselves are divvied up equally (every team gets one) that the ramifications of them would also be equal, but that’s not the case in 2018. Not every team has to deal with teams coming off of byes, and that’s because some have to do it more than once.
Dallas Cowboys - 2
New York Giants - 1
Chicago Bears - 1
Detroit Lions - 2
Atlanta Falcons - 1
Los Angeles Rams - 1
Seattle Seahawks - 1
Miami Dolphins - 2
New England Patriots - 1
New York Jets - 1
Baltimore Ravens - 1
Cleveland Browns - 1
Indianapolis Colts - 3
Jacksonville Jaguars - 2
Tennessee Titans - 1
Oakland Raiders - 1
No one should get this advantage, but especially not playoff teams
The Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, and Denver Broncos are all immune from having to play a team coming off of their bye. Five of these nine teams were in the playoffs last season.
On the other side of things the Cowboys, Redskins, Lions, Saints, Dolphins, Bengals, Colts, and Jaguars all have to deal with this detail more than once. Only two of those eight teams were in the playoffs a year ago. This all seems contrary to logic.
What’s more is that the Cowboys (kind of), Dolphins, Bengals, and Colts (kind of) have to deal with an extra challenge. Dallas, Miami, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis all play consecutive games against teams coming off of their byes. After the Cowboys play the Titans they host the Eagles when Philadelphia is coming off of their bye, but the Cowboys will have not necessarily faced that disadvantage against Tennessee because they’ll be coming off of theirs; however, they will face a Philly team coming off of a bye while they are coming off of a short week on MNF. That’s six days of rest versus two weeks. The NFL should never schedule any team in this predicament.
This is the second year in a row where the Eagles were given an advantage for a game against Dallas
Looking specifically at the Cowboys/Eagles situation, this is actually the second year in a row that Dallas has drawn Philadelphia the week after their bye. Last season the Cowboys were in Atlanta the week before (shout out Chaz Green), this season they’re obviously playing the Titans in Jason Witten’s return in the MNF booth. Last year this game was a home one for the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, but the point stands that the Eagles have been afforded an advantage for their one of their toughest division games two years in a row now.
Dallas is the only team that has to face two playoff teams coming off of their byes in 2018, both of whom happen to have been playoff teams last season, and they have to do the second against the reigning world champions while they’re on a short week. What’s more is they don’t even get the “advantage” of having an extra week on the opponent they’re playing coming out of a bye because it’s equalized by Tennessee being on theirs simultaneously. It’s a difficult thing to put together a 32-team schedule that establishes total fairness, but seems like you could avoid imbalances like this.
The Bengals were given no favors in the AFC North
The Colts are a bit different. They get the Raiders after Oakland has a bye, have a bye themselves, then get the Jaguars coming off of theirs. It’s not as bad as say Cincinnati, who arguably has it worse than anyone in regards to just 2018.
The Bengals have to travel to Baltimore after the Ravens have had their bye, and then they have to host the Browns after Cleveland has theirs. While the Ravens and Browns aren’t exactly teams that strike terror in people the fact that the Bengals have to play two consecutive games against division rivals coming off of their byes is a boat no team should be put in.
It’s an arduous process for NFL schedule-makers to put together this 256 game masterpiece. Things like where and when are the biggest factors, but fairness and logic should also be heavily weighed. With regard to the Cowboys that doesn’t seem to necessarily be the case this season.