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The bye week can be a savior or a killer – just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were losers of their last two and 7-5 entering their week 13 bye in 2020. They then righted the ship (pun somewhat intended) and ripped off four straight wins to enter the playoffs on a high note and win their next four straight on route to a Super Bowl ring. The 2020 Bucs may be the best bye card story in NFL history.
Let’s take a quick check of how the bye’s breakdown in 2021:
Week 6 – Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers
Week 7 – Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Pittbsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers
Week 8 – Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders
Week 9 – Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Football Team
Week 10 – Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants, Houston Texans
Week 11 – Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams
Week 12 – Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 13 – Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans
Week 14 – Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles
At first glance, there are a few teams that could greatly benefit and a few that could really get hurt by this year’s scheduling. Let’s start with those that could truly prosper.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one team that jumps off the map early. They’ve had a rough start to 2021 and could use an early week off to try and sort out some new schemes and familiarize themselves a little more with the new playbook.
Another team that could greatly take the bait and run here are the San Francisco 49ers. They’re playing, yet again, in a very good NFC West division and will need all hands on deck. By week 6, they should have their quarterback situation pretty well sorted, they should also have Brandon Aiyuk back at full health and will be close to activating Raheem Mostert of the IR too. That breather week could be huge for them.
Now, with all of that in mind, there are also some teams that jump off the page who could really get smacked by this year’s schedule. Let’s take a closer look.
First and foremost, given how the NFC East likes to shake down late in the year, the Philadelphia Eagles could be in a little bit of trouble here. It took until the final couple weeks of the year for that division to be awarded and Philly could use all of the games and opportunities they could get later in the year.
It could be argued of course that a little breather could be good for them heading into the final few tilts. It’s more likely, though, that the Giants, WFT and Cowboys may use this week to gain ground or further separate themselves from the green and black.
The Kansas City Chiefs also sit there a little bit awkwardly in the middle of the bye pack. Mid-year is generally when Patrick Mahomes and that high-powered offense are usually at their deadliest, so to lose a game and that momentum midseason could be a big one for KC. To add to that, the AFC West will be no slouch of a division this year either. The Chargers have built up, the Raiders look good early and the Broncos shouldn’t be written off by any means either.
So you can see how a quality bye week placement can really help your team in the long run. What the Buccaneers did last year wasn’t something you typically see, but their success definitely shone a big light on the importance of that free week off.
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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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