The New England Patriots are in the middle of a rather interesting portion of their schedule as they are meeting teams coming off their bye week in three consecutive games. The Patriots already hosted and defeated the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, before going on the road to lose against the Baltimore Ravens — both clubs had two weeks to prepare for the contest. Sunday’s opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, falls under the same category.
The Patriots and Eagles are not only both heading into the game off their bye week, they are also the among the best teams in the NFL when it comes to playing with two weeks to prepare for a regular season contest: since 2001, when the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick-era started in New England, the two clubs share identical 14-4 post-bye records (.778) — tied for second best in the league over that time-span behind only the Ravens’ 15-4 (.789).
The average NFL team, meanwhile, “only” has a winning percentage of .532 when coming off a bye since 2001 (312-274-3). Needless to say that the Patriots and Eagles are historically capable of outperforming their opposition when having additional time to get healthy and prepare — something the average post-bye scores over the last 18 seasons also reflect: New England outscored its opponents 30.4-15.3, the Eagles theirs 25.8-14.7
Of course, it needs to be pointed out that Philadelphia has only played three games coming off a bye under its current head coach — and two of those were lost. The team was defeated 24-23 by the Detroit Lions during the 2016 season, the first with Doug Pederson at the helm, and bounced back with a 37-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys the following year. In 2018, finally, the Eagles dropped their post-bye game 27-20 to the Cowboys.
For Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, however, past matchups and success rates do not have much of a meaning when it comes to this week’s game. The future Hall of Famer made this clear during a press conference call earlier this week: “Each year is a new year, and each of our performances from year-to-year is contingent on our preparation and our ability to perform in that season that we’re being judged in, not what we did in some other years.”
“Personally, I don’t really put a lot of weight or a whole lot of evaluation into what’s happened in the past,” continued Belichick. “If you look back at a team one year and compare it to the next year, there’s — whatever the end analysis is, it is. And, there’s value to that and merit to it, but the reality of it is we’re in a week-to-week business, and this week’s about this game, and the preparation and the performance two teams have on Sunday afternoon.”
“I’m not sure that 2015, 16, 17, 18 really have a lot to do with it. I think this year has a lot more relevance to what we’re able to do this week to prepare for the game, what we’re able to execute out on the field Sunday afternoon,” he added. With that being said, one cannot deny that Belichick’s Patriots have generally looked good when coming off their bye. At least historically, the Eagles can also claim the same.