Skip to Content

Why Do NFL Teams Have a Bye Week?

Why Do NFL Teams Have a Bye Week?

American football is one of the most intense, rigorous, and brutal sports in the world. With players suffering from repeated hits, blocks, and tackles, players must endure repeated blows to their bodies and head week-after-week.

And although NFL teams only play one game a week, these games can place an immense level of stress and soreness on the players bodies. Similarly, with a relatively shortened season and schedule, NFL players are not given much time to fully rest and recover before their next game.

Below, we are going to look in-depth into just why do NFL teams have a bye week and how this week off can help NFL players and teams to rest, recover, and feel rejuvenated for their next matchup.

Why Do NFL Teams Have a Bye Week?

What Is a Bye Week?

Although the bye week has been popularized in pop-culture via the NFL, the concept of a bye exists throughout many different sports. In a sport, a bye, quite simply, is a preferential status given to a player or a team which automatically advances them to the next round of a tournament or playoff, without having to need to play an early round opponent.

This concept of a bye differs from the one instituted by the NFL.

In the NFL, rather, each NFL team will be given one bye week during the normal season. This bye week is placed on the respective team’s schedule before the start of the season and typically falls between Week 4 and Week 12 of the NFL season.

However, for the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, the bye week is prohibited for both teams from falling on the 12th week of the NFL season, if the 12th week falls on Thanksgiving. As both the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions regularly play and face matchups on Thanksgiving Day, neither team may be given a bye week on that day.

What Are the Bye Week Schedules

While the bye week schedules are scheduled before the start of a new NFL season, there are some rules and policies which the NFL front office scheduling department must abide by. Firstly, bye weeks are only set to begin during Week 6 of the NFL season.

As players are already well-rested and rejuvenated from the offseason, waiting until the 6th week of the season to begin bye weeks helps players to maintain their momentum from the offseason.

Similarly, all bye weeks are set to end by Week 14 of the NFL season.

During these 9-weeks, all 32 NFL teams will be given one week where they will not be scheduled to play a game. However, as there are only 9-weeks available for a bye week to be given and 32 total NFL teams, multiple teams can expect to be given a week off during the 6th and 14th week of the NFL season.

Do Bye Weeks Affect Fantasy Football?

Bye weeks are a factor that must be considered when scheduling your fantasy football team. As a player that is on a bye week will not accumulate any fantasy points for your team, you will need to find players of similar position to replace them for that week.

This means that you should calculate when your players are set to be on a bye week and schedule a substitute accordingly. If you do not replace those players from your starting lineup during a week where they are not scheduled to play, you will not receive any additional points from their being on the lineup.

Main Reasons Why NFL Team’s Have a Bye Week

While, admittedly, the NFL schedule is much shorter than that of the NBA, NHL, or MLB, the rigorous nature of the sport mandates that players be given a week off to rest, rejuvenate, and recover from the previous weeks game.

However, there are a few additional reasons why the NFL has instituted a bye week into the schedule of their season. Below, we are going to list a few additional reasons why the NFL institutes bye weeks into their schedules.

  • Due to the nature of the sport – as mentioned above, due to the nature of the sport of football, with rough tackles, hard hits, and consistent tackles, a players body needs additional time to rest and recover. As the NFL season is already much shorter than that of other professional sports leagues, a bye week is necessary to allow players additional time to fully recover.
  • As a means to regroup – similarly, for many NFL teams, the bye week signifies a chance and an opportunity for the team and its players to regroup and reconvene before they return to the field. Many NFL teams and players will utilize the time during a bye week to discuss opportunities, areas of weakness, and areas of growth and will come back stronger and with more energy and drive to close out the season strong.
  • An opportunity to rehabilitate nagging injuries – in addition, many players specifically, will take the bye week as an opportunity to rehabilitate nagging injuries and concerns. While the bye week isn’t nearly enough time to recover from major injuries, such as an ACL tear, it is an opportunity to seek medical treatment on smaller injuries.
  • An opportunity to learn – lastly, with the NFL season being so short, the bye week offers NFL team’s and their respective players an opportunity to learn and prepare for their upcoming matchups. From watching film and tapes on upcoming opponents to reviewing their own previous games, the bye week provides both players and personnel a unique opportunity to grow their own knowledge and focus on areas of improvement.