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What is a bye week in the NFL? How many teams get a bye in the playoffs?

All football athletes, even the healthy ones, may benefit from an additional week’s recuperation time, thus putting a very high premium on getting byes.

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Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

In 1990, when there were 12 playoff teams instead of 10, the NFL gave the top two seeds in each conference a bye. These are the best seeds, and these teams would much rather have a week off than play in the Wild Card round.

This is mainly attributable to the physical demands of an NFL season that may last up to 16 games. Every NFL player suffers an injury of some kind after the regular season, and having an additional week to recover would be much appreciated.


When it comes to the NFL post season, the No. 1 seed in each of the conferences gets a bye week for the first round - the Wild Card round - of the playoffs. They also get to enjoy home field advantage for the entirety of the playoffs. The importance of this week can’t be overstated in that not only does it allow for the same kind of opportunity - as mentioned before - to recover, but it also gives the seeded teams an opportunity to both view who their opponents will be and plan for them as well.

Athletes may benefit from the extra recuperation time

The clubs with byes this week are also at home. The impact of playing at one’s home stadium, which is amplified by familiar weather conditions, is real. Over the last decade, home NFL clubs have won 57% of their regular season games.

The bye week and the effect it has

It’s reasonable to assume that teams playing at home have a little edge in the postseason. But do teams who have a bye week have any other competitive edge?

Playoff teams with a bye week will have a significant edge in the Divisional Round because of playing at home. However, rest and recuperation may account for at least part of the greater winning rate of bye-week teams compared to other home-field NFL playoff teams.


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