Opponent Preview: Bye Week
Last year I did an elaborate bye week post calculating all sorts of win percentages for various teams and so forth. You can read the whole thing here if you so desire, but I’m going repeat some of the information and add last season’s figures to the chart, so you might not want to bother.
The primary purpose of the bye week is to heal up. Last year at this point in the season the Steelers were a great deal healthier than they are this season. And last year’s bye was almost a month later last season—Week 11.
Of course, Ben had been out for part of that time, but he was back. And Le’Veon Bell wasn’t injured until the game right before the bye—the Week 10 match against the Bengals.
Last season’s record after Week 7 was the mirror image of this year’s—3-4—and the Bengals looked to have the division pretty well wrapped up.
Last year I was interested to see how often teams in general and the Steelers in particular generally win their first post-bye game. Of course this is dependent upon a number of factors, but the overall record league-wide for the past 10 years or so is a 53% win rate. This is positive but scarcely overwhelming.
Although I wasn’t up for looking at every teams’ overall record vs. their post-bye record I did do it for the AFC North. Here it is, with last season’s results added:
It is really interesting that despite the wretched Cleveland overall record (these figures are since 2005 for Cleveland, and the full tenure of the other coaches) they still have beat the league average after their bye week. Curious.
Both Harbaugh’s and Tomlin’s post-bye win percentages took a hit (from 75% last year to 66% this year—small sample size and all that.) But in every case the post-bye-week percentage is better than their overall record—the least so in the case of the Steelers.
Last season the post-bye-week game was the Seattle Seahawks. They had a pretty poor record at that point, but of course managed to beat the Steelers, who had to go to Seattle to play the game. (And this brings up the curious fact that most of the post-bye games seem to be on the road. I wonder if this is deliberate or not, but whatever the case it generally seems to happen.)
This season appears to be no exception for the Steelers, who will travel to Baltimore to battle the Ravens. It’s not an exception in another curious way as well, as I discovered last year:
I found the Steelers only twice played a team after the bye who didn’t have a losing record at the end of the season. In both cases they were wins—2009 was at Denver, who finished with an 8-8 record, and in 2013 they played the Jets in New York (or New Jersey, or wherever it is they play). The Jets also finished with an 8-8 record that season. Curiously, those were two of the Steelers’ worst seasons under Mike Tomlin—in 2009 they went 9-7, and in 2013 they went 8-8.
When the Steelers played the Seahawks last year they had a 5-5 record, although they ended the season at 9-6. It’s certainly possible that the currently 3-4 Ravens will turn around their season in a similar fashion, but they aren’t showing a lot of indications of doing so. Let’s hope they don’t begin by beating the Steelers.
The best way for this not to happen would be for the large crop of currently injured Steelers to be ready to return. So rest up, guys, and let’s go Steelers!