Bills complain about bye-week scheduling

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The NFL undoubtedly hears plenty of complaints from plenty of teams on plenty of issues.  Most of those complaints are communicated privately to the league office.

The Bills have opted to take one specific gripe public, via the team’s official website.

The concern arises from one of the apparently unavoidable scheduling quirks — the number of games a given team plays against opponents who have had extra rest, whether from a full-blown bye week or the mini-bye that comes from playing on a Thursday.

As Chris Brown of points out, the Bills in 2012 faced four opponents in a five-week span who had extra time to prepare.  Buffalo lost three of the four games.

This year, according to an analysis performed by, the Bills lead the league with five games coming against opponents who will have extra rest.  It happens twice against the Jets, once against the Dolphins, and against the Bengals and Jaguars.

Brown also points out that the Buffalo bye week has been “compromised” by the fact that the Bills return to play the Falcons, who will be operating on 10 days rest after playing on a Thursday night.

“Compromised” may not be the right word here.  The purpose of the bye isn’t to give every team a crack at playing another team that has had only one week to get ready.  It’s to give each team one week of extra rest.  (Actually, some would say it’s to give the networks one more week of regular-season programming.)

The Bills also have broken down the number of games every other team plays against opponents who receive extra rest.  Fourteen teams only have one game against an opponent who gets extra rest.  Three, including the Patriots, have zero.

“It’s very difficult to call the NFL a league of parity when there’s one team with half of their division games against clubs with extra time to rest and prepare, while another in the same division has none,” Brown writes. “The league simply has to do better.”

We doubt that doing better is doable, given the various other balls Howard Katz juggles when trying to lay out a plan for 256 regular-season games over a 17-week period.  But we’re nevertheless intrigued by the decision of one of the 32 franchises to use its website as the platform for shooting an arrow at the NFL scheduling process.

53 responses to “Bills complain about bye-week scheduling

  1. I completely agree with Brown.

    You know if this was the Patriots or one of the other NFL’s Favs it would be all over the news cycles.

    But hey it is only the lowley Bills right.

  2. Excellent research by the Bills. And I agree with them, make it visible to all. Funny how we scream for transparency, then when we get it, we’re told it might not be the best idea.

  3. I heard Chris Brown mention this on The John Murphy Show during last year’s training camp and watched in disgust as theses loses piled up. This seems to be an unfair disadvantage for the Bills.

    And strange that the Patriots are one of the teams that do not face a team coming off the bye.

    Who are the other 2 teams, Mike?

  4. Means very little unless the team can show a longer pattern with a lot more data, across many seasons. They’ve raised this issue more quietly some years ago. But mostly silence since. Could it be that the long term data is more forgiving to the schedule makers?

    Just wish this organization would stop their pattern of making excuses before the season starts.

  5. They suck anyway the bills could have 2 weeks rest and play the Alabama crimson tide coming off a short week and the bills would lose by28. Enjoy last place in the division AGAIN. Good thing you’re used to it. #care bears mafia

  6. This year, according to an analysis performed by, the Bills lead the league with five games coming against opponents who will have extra rest. It happens twice against the Jets, once against the Dolphins, and against the Bengals and Jaguars.

    Wow, I’d complain too if this epic adversaries got two weeks of preparation against me, and I’m a Jaguars fan.

  7. I completely agree with the Bills” position and they have a right to complain. The NFL takes other issues into consideration and this should be a main focus. They brought it up last year and instead of getting any relief, the league made it worse. I doubt the Patriots lack of dealing with any team coming off a break is coincidental.

  8. Right…. more than half the league plays teams with one or zero opponents coming of bye, and the Bills play five this year after four last year. And Florio thinks the story is about the communication platform used by the Bills blogger.

    If this were the Steelers or West Virginia, Florio would be all over this.

  9. The pats schedule has been like that for a long time. I understand MOST games are set for who the team plays years before by the rotation but when they play has always favored Goodells favorite team.

  10. Teams like the Pats, Steelers, Cowboys and Colts have gotten the benefit of the scheduling doubt for years. The NFL talks parity, but the road is always paved a little wider for the teams that net the league the most cash.

    If the Bills are just now catching on to this, that explains a lot of things.

  11. Stop complaining! You’re lucky you’re still allowed in the NFL at all. Crap team, crap owner, crap stadium, crap weather. What do you want? Do you really think anyone outside of upstate NY really wants to see you play? OH, I forgot, crap uniforms and crap fans!

  12. Stop your crying bills this happened to the Redskins about 4 years ago. Man up a deal with it. whaaaa whaaaa .

  13. Another paranoid conspiracy theory about the patriots? From ProFootballtalk? Nooo.

    Who are the other two teams to go without facing a team coming off a bye week? No mention of them?

    How many national games do the Bills have? Are all of their games at 1pm? Could their previous record have something to do with that? Could scheduling be tied to other considerations not involving the patriots? Apparently not, according to your site. I strongly advise consulting your Webster’s for the words “logistics” and “coincidence”.

  14. Is this info right? I thought the Bills are annually scheduled to play in Foxboro after the Pats bye week. Someone screwed up!

  15. A factor that this guy is missing is the Patriots play a few games on short rest, thus giving their opponent more time to prep. Example: Monday Night vs Panthers followed by a short week and then the Broncos.

    IJust another Bills fan who wants to point to anything but the product on the field to explain away loosing football.

  16. If the scheduling was completed and this was the Giants, Pats, or Cowboys there would be an uproar and the schedule would be changed. I understand the Bills are a rebuilding team (again). But this is a big disadvantage. Giving an opposing team an extra week of rest and preparation is a big bonus no matter who they are or who they are playing. Why can’t the NFL make division opponents play each other after they both have a bye? It’s really the only way to make it fair.

  17. I think every fan complains about their team’s schedule. I know I hear from other fans all the time about the Seahawks schedule and how much they travel (coincidentally in comparison to the Patriots).

    Just win with your schedule and stop making excuses.

  18. As per usual terrible sports writing on this site. Show me where the Bills complained? All they did was exploit a terrible system of how they schedule the season. I would pat the Bills on the back for the research they put into this.

  19. Potentially this is a valid gripe, but you have to look at data over an extended period, at least 10 years I would think maybe 15-20.

    Ie; in the last 10 years how many times have the Bills had schedules where zero opponents got the extra time, how many years with 1 opponent, how many with 2 etc.

    Then you have to look at the same data for the other AFCE east teams and the league as a whole.

    Then an only then if the analysis indicates a badly skewed schedule for just the Bills or a handful of teams does it become a valid complaint.

  20. Dear season ticket holder,

    I am writing you today, in the middle of June, to apologize for the terrible season that we are about to have in 2013. After spending 1146 research hours, 3.2 million on “committees” and endless meetings, we have determined that it is the NFLs scheduling of bye week’s and Thursday night games that will cause our demise.

    I know we haven’t stepped on even the training camp field yet, but certain realities are impossible to overcome. Please, understand that this out of our control, and is an unfixable hardship that we are forced to accept.

    Now, I know what some of you might be thinking, that complaining about scheduling seems ironic, seeing how we OURSELVES schedule home games away from home in an entirely different country.
    While we understand that thought, we, like you, would prefer to spend as little time in archaic Ralph Wilson stadium as possible.

    Thanks again, for spending thousands to watch another lost season. don’t forget your hand and feet warmers and we will see you soon.


    Customer Loyalty Team
    Buffalo Bills

  21. The purpose of the bye was NOT to give teams extra rest.

    I remember when the bye first appeared. The purpose was to make the scheduling work out given the number of games that each team were to play.

    I don’t think rest had anything to do with it. The league was expanding the number of games played at the same time, working players more, not less!

  22. It shouldn’t be that difficult of a scheduling maneuver to give an entire Division the same bye-week, then the next week have all 4 teams in said division play one another.

  23. The whole bye-week schedule is a joke. I don’t believe for a second that the league could not cut the bye week down to only 3 weeks in the middle of the season (3 divisions off for 2 of the weeks, and 2 divisions off for the other week) and the teams coming off the bye could play divisional game the next week, which means teams would play teams coming off the bye. Who would not like to see the 49ers/Seahawks play each other with 2 weeks to prepare.

  24. Even as a Pats fan, this guy makes a great point. 5 games against teams with extra rest versus 0 games against teams with extra rest is not balanced.

    Computers and schedule making software are certainly powerful enough these days to take these things into account when cranking out a schedule. It may not be possible to make everything absolutely even but it can sure be a lot closer.

    Saying that the Patriots have had this type of schedule for years sounds like just a lazy attack against a hated rival. If you can show a similar breakdown for the past five years or so, that would probably help.

    Either way, when more than half the league never has to face a team with extra rest more than once in a season and one team has to do this five times, that one team has a legitimate gripe.

  25. Cry me a friggin river…..

    It’s just how the schedule works out. Deal with it. They are not the only team that has had this happen to them. Do you see other teams crying like little babies because of it?

    Grow a pair and move on.

  26. i’m pretty sure there is a program which would create a schedule without these large disparities. but its always about the dollar with the NFL’s ownership and when the admen and promoters look for revenue generation rather than equity, these type things happen.

    the eagles had a similar schedule last year (not that it made a lot of difference); and apparently do again this year.

    its the price the owners pay (or force their fans to suffer through) for having an investment that rises in value geometrically. most were or are leveraged to be able to buy in and need the cash to pay the nut. thus, even though ralph wilson’s teams stink, the value of his franchise rises with the other boats.

  27. Winning takes care of all your problems….
    Whining makes you a jets fan and a loser…
    So start winning, stop whining, and you will get a better schedule.

  28. I knew Kraft bought the refs,Goodel andl,CBS executives but now the schedule makers? The Pats do always get their bye week late!!

  29. Seriously, making an excuse in June is pathetic!

    So what, some teams coming off a bye week are rusty and don’t play as well.

    Each team has 16 regular season games, and at the least, they have 6 days to get ready for the game. Plenty of time to watch film and get ready. If your coaching staff does not have the ability to get ready for your opponent in 6 days, even if they have 10, then you need to get a new coaching staff.

    Next thing you know, teams based in California are going to be complaining that they have to travel to the East coast to play games, or a Super Bowl champion is going to have an away game to start the season!

  30. This same thing happened to Philly last season. Something like 4 or 5 weeks in a row they were playing teams coming off a bye week. It happens and you just deal with it.

  31. The “bye week” was instituted originally when there was an odd number of teams in the NFL. Since there is now an even number of teams, the league decided that it was a nice way to add an extra week to the season (for revenue and TV purposes.) I remember when the American Football League expanded to nine teams. At that time they instituted a bye week. They ended it when they added a 10th team. I thought the NFL would end the bye scheduling when they added Houston but they liked the longer season. It is naive to think the bye is “to give each team one week of extra rest.” You should know by now that everything the NFL does is for the almighty dollar.

  32. Remember 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit Houston and instead of moving the game to Baltimore they moved Houston and Baltimore’s bye week to week 2(the season JUST started!) so Houston and Baltimore had to play straight through from week 3 on without a bye? Good times. Houston flamed out,Baltimore lost in the AFCCG.

  33. Bills have a legitimate gripe. The NFL contends it wants parity but then stuff like this happens. Bills have five games like this but the Pats have zero? That is wrong. Then again, the NFL doesn’t care about the west coast teams either. Every team out west gets hosed with 10am kickoffs for east coast games even when later kickoffs are available for those games. If you don’t think that’s an issue, then you don’t know anything about jet lag or football.

  34. I checked the schedule…lame, I know…and I only saw them playing a team coming off a bye 3 times. Weeks 7 (Miami), 8 (Saints), and 11 (Jets).

    The other 2 times the other team has a game on Thursday night the week before. Not nearly as big of an impact in my mind. Atlanta in week 13 and Jacksonville in week 15.

    Did I miss something?

  35. Bye weeks matter. Go ask Nick Saban. The year after his first championship at ‘Bama, his team played 5 teams that had an extra week off. They lost 3 games. Bye weeks are huge in sports.

  36. As I recall, during the early years of the bye era, at least four teams from the same division had their bye in the same week – and quite often, the played each other the following week.

    Why not go back to that – and this time, in ALL cases? And now all the divisions have four teams.

    After all, if the NFL can do this lame thing with having all Week 17 games be same-division games (and don’t even get me started articulating why that is a terminally lame and counterproductive idea …).

  37. I just did a little research. I don’t know how much validity can be taken from this tidbit, but…….. I only went back to the 2009 season. The Patriots have only faced the Browns in week 10 of 2010 and the Cowboys in week 6 of 2011. That’s 2 teams in 5 years. Things that make you say hmmmm.

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