When you think about it, the idea of the bye week in football is pretty unique within sports. Oh sure hockey, basketball and baseball teams all have their days off. But that’s just it, they’re “days off.” No big deal is made about days off in sports because in a sport where teams frequently every other night or, in the case of baseball, pretty much every day of the week, days off are just an acknowledgement that even the best athletes can’t play every day for 10 days in a row.
But in football, where teams only play once a week anyhow, bye weeks are a big deal. Teams HATE to lose their last games before bye weeks because they don’t want to go into an extra week of rest on a bad note. And players and fans alike view the bye week as the real halfway point of the season, much more than they do Week Eight. It’s where the season really gets serious, not unlike the All-Star Game in other sports.
But what makes bye weeks truly weird is that they’re seemingly at random. There’s no one criteria for when a team gets a bye. Which is why it was kind of strange to see so many good NFL teams stay idle this past Sunday. Surprise 4-2 teams Buffalo and Cincinnati, AFC East juggernaut New England, the New York Giants, current NFC West leader San Francisco…the only sub-.500 team taking Sunday off was the team everyone expected to win the Super Bowl back in August, Philadelphia. Crazy stuff, huh?