Vikings Hoping to Avoid 2019 Trend of Teams Struggling After Bye Week
28 of the NFL's 32 teams have played a game after their bye week this season, with the Vikings included in the group of four that will finally do so this weekend. 18 of the 28 have walked away from that game with a loss, with six of those losses coming by 20 or more points.
If you add in the element of going on the road, it gets even worse; teams are just 4-12 this season when traveling away from home following their bye week. Those statistics don't paint a rosy picture for the Vikings, who have a major challenge ahead of them as they head to Seattle for Monday Night Football this week.
For an example of this odd trend, look no further than this past weekend. With a Week 11 bye, the Packers had two weeks to prepare for a huge Sunday night matchup with the 49ers in San Francisco. They were promptly obliterated. And that's far from the only example. A few weeks back, the Texans came off of their bye for a hyped-up game against the Ravens, only to lose 41-7. The Jaguars dropped a big division game by 20 points to the Colts after their off week. 18 different teams have fallen victim to this so far, and not all of the losses were to clearly superior teams.
This is probably where it's worth mentioning that this is almost certainly just an anomaly in a small sample size. Last year, teams were 18-14 after their bye. Since 2003, teams have won 54.7 percent of such games.
Still, there are a few legitimate causes for concern that the Vikings must try to mitigate. Theoretically, the week off could cause a team that's playing well to lose its momentum. Remember 2016, when then Vikings started 5-0? They had a bye in Week 6, and came back to lose their next four games as they stumbled to an 8-8 finish. The Vikings are 2-7 following their bye week since 2010, though both wins came in the last four years when the team has been more competitive than it was early in the decade.
Eric Kendricks brought up an interesting point on Tuesday: with two weeks to get ready for a team, it's possible to actually study and think too much.
"You have a little extra time to prepare for them, but they're going to come out with some stuff against us too, they're going to game-plan against us too," Kendricks said. "There is a point where I feel like you don't want to overdo it and be out there guessing. You still have to try to react and play, that's the name of the game. It's up to us to just execute and perform the gameplan, and I feel like if we do that, we'll be fine."
In all likelihood, there's no statistical significance to teams being 10-18 after a bye this year, nor will there be even if that record ends up being 10-22. But it's a trend the Vikings want to avoid becoming part of as they take on the Seahawks in a crucially important game next Monday night.