Explaining the Reason for the “Bye”

by | Oct 11, 2017 | Articles, The League, The Team

There’s no Cowboy game this weekend, but you can still dazzle your friends on Sunday with your knowledge of the “bye” and its effect on the team. Here’s our handy-dandy list of “5 Things to Know about the Cowboys’ Bye Week”.

NFL Photos via AP


Bye Weekends Have Been Around a Long Time

The NFL introduced a “bye” weekend in 1960 when the Cowboys were an expansion team, the 13th franchise in the league. Because there were an odd number of franchises, one team had to be idle each week. Back in those days, there were only 12 regular season games. But thanks to the Cowboys being added as an odd number team, the schedule covered 13 weeks. The next season, the Vikings began play as an expansion franchise. There were now 14 teams and the schedule was expanded to 14 games. Thus, there was one game per team over the course of 14 weeks and there was no need for a bye.


Another “Odd” Situation Necessitates the “Bye Weekend”

In 1966 the Atlanta Falcons began play as the league’s 15th franchise. Because of the odd number of franchises, once again a team needed to be idle each week so the “bye” was re-introduced. Every NFL team played 14 regular season games over a 15-week schedule. In 1967, the New Orleans Saints began play and the league was back to an even number of franchises so there was no need for a team to be “idle”.

NFL Photos via AP

NFL Photos via AP


NFL Makes “Bye” A Regular Part of the Schedule in 1990

The NFL re-introduced the “bye” to the regular season schedule in 1990. It had nothing to do with expansion or an odd number of teams, it had to do with money. By spreading the season over an extra week, that’s an extra weekend of games for network television partners. And more games equal more money for broadcasting rights. And more games mean more opportunities for networks to sell to advertisers. Since 1990 (with the exception of one year), teams have played a 16-game regular season schedule over the course of 17 weeks.

Ryan Kang via AP


If You Think One Weekend Each Season Without Cowboys Football Is Tough, Imagine Two!

In 1993 the NFL experimented with the schedule by have two bye weekends for each team. That meant a team’s 16-game schedule was spread over 18 weeks. The format with two byes was unpopular with fans as well as coaches and players. The experiment lasted only one season.


Cowboys Are Excellent Coming Out of the Bye Weekend

Since 1990 the Cowboys are 19-9 in games following the bye weekend. The bye is an important week for all NFL teams. It gives players a chance to rest and rejuvenate, and it gives players dealing with injuries an extra week to rehabilitate. Coach Garrett gave players an extra day off following the Green Bay game (both Monday and Tuesday). As they return to work on Wednesday, coaches give young players (the backups) more attention and practice reps, sort of a back-to-the-basics week.  The week leading into the bye weekend is a chance to focus on your own team (self-scouting) before shifting into gear the following week and game-planning for the upcoming opponent (@ 49ers, October 22nd).

Ron Jenkins via AP