Week 4 in the NFL brings the first two byes of the year. The Packers and Eagles, both off to good starts, have this weekend off with an opportunity to get healthy, tweak the playbook, and scout future opponents.
Throughout the year, I will profile teams on bye, considering their season thus far, their history following byes, and what we can expect when they return to the gridiron.
The Packers are 2-1 this year straight up and against the spread. They covered in Week 1 (27-23 at Jacksonville), lost as a favorite in Week 2 (17-14 at Minnesota), and covered again in Week 3 (34-27 vs the Lions). Aaron Rodgers has continued to struggle at times (by his lofty standards) and Green Bay is only 28th in the NFL in yards gained. That said, he looked better against Detroit and the Packers now rank among the top half of the league in scoring. The defense, as usual, is middle of the pack: 13th in total defense, and 15th in points allowed.
Green Bay lost at Denver (29-10) last season following a Week 7 bye. That was the first time in ten tries that coach Mike McCarthy dropped his first game following a week off in the regular season. The previous four wins came by an average margin of more than 16 points.
This year, Green Bay returns to action with three straight home games against the Giants, Cowboys, and Bears. The Packers are 25-7-1 since the start of the 2012 campaign at home and 19-13-1 ATS.
The payouts won’t be huge, but the Packers moneyline should be one of the better bets after their bye.
While the big story surrounding the Eagles has been rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, the defense deserves even more credit for the team’s 3-0 start (both SU and ATS). Philadelphia is allowing an NFL-best 9.0 points per game, while yielding fewer than 250 yards per game (fourth in the league). The offensive production, from a yardage perspective, is just barely in the top half of the league, but their 30.7 PPG is second-best. A +6 turnover margin has been a big part of their high-scoring start.
Vegas and the betting public weren’t buying into a team helmed by a rookie at the start of the season. All that production has led to easy victories and covers against Cleveland, Chicago, and Pittsburgh.
When Philadelphia returns from its bye, they face Detroit and Washington on the road before hosting the Vikings. First year coach Doug Pederson has no track record following an off week, though he has spent most of his career working for Andy Reid, who is 2-1 with the Chiefs following a week off, and went 10-4 during his time with the Eagles.
Philly beat Dallas last year (33-27) coming off of a Week 8 bye. The year before, they fell in Arizona (24-20).
Much of Philly is still a mystery, and Pederson’s lack of a post-bye resume gives me pause, even though he’s arguably been the Coach of the Year so far. I’d slowplay the Eagles after the bye. Wentz has looked great, even on the road, but he’s also faced arguably the two worst teams in the league away from home. Until we get a better sense of what this team looks like on the road against quality – or even average – competition, I’m going to slowplay the Eagles.
Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].
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