NFL Explains Eagles’ ‘Short Straw’ Schedule

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy ReidIf you are of the opinion that the Eagles were dealt a bum hand by the league schedule-makers, then you have plenty of company. Even the NFL agrees with you to a point.

We have received a healthy amount of emails lately looking for explanations as to how the Eagles ended up with such a seemingly-unkind slate, so we did some digging. Here’s what we found:

The biggest gripe is the fact that the Eagles face four teams coming off their bye. Sunday’s game against Atlanta marks the third consecutive outing in which the Eagles will take on such an opponent. (The Eagles, of course, are coming off their bye as well this week.)

The first two, against Pittsburgh and Detroit, both resulted in losses. Now they host the undefeated Falcons. The advantage Andy Reid generally enjoys following a bye (he is 13-0 as head coach of the Eagles) is weakened by the fact that his opposition has also had extra time to prepare. (Only once before under Reid, against this same Falcons team in 2008, have the Eagles squared off against a team simultaneously coming off their bye.)

Here is what the NFL had to say when contacted by Birds 24/7 regarding all these bye-week opponents:

The Eagles’ four games vs team coming off their byes includes this week’s game against ATL where the Eagles are also coming off their own bye.  Beginning in 2010, we began to focus specifically on ROAD games vs teams coming off their byes as that had proven to be a competitive disadvantage (.388 win pct in 2003-2009 as opposed to .426 for all road teams in those years), and have limited each team to a maximum of 2 road games per season vs a team coming off their bye.  This season, GB and BUF also play 2 road games vs teams off their byes.

We also try to keep in mind how recently these scheduling “inequities” have happened to a team, so while Philly has the short straw this season, their recent history is quite fair:
2011:  2 games vs teams off their bye (one home, one away)
2010:  1 game vs team off their bye (away)
2009:  no games vs teams off their bye

As far as having four total games vs teams coming off their byes in a single season, it happened to ATL in 2009 (2-2 in those games), to SD in 2005 (2-2), and to DAL in 2003 (3-1).

Some good information in there. This lets us know that this is just the fourth time in NFL history that a team has been forced to play four opponents coming off a bye, and that the results have been less-than-crippling. It also is an admission that the Eagles did get the “short straw” this season. It was their turn.

The bye-week scenario does not tell the whole story. As the table below illustrates, the Eagles find themselves at a competitive disadvantage several more times over the course of the season:

(Note: “Opponent the Previous Week” shows on what day the Eagles’ opposition played the week before, if at all.)


Eagles Opponent/ Day
Opponent the Previous Week
1@CLE (Sunday)---Even
2BAL (Sunday)Monday Night FootballEagles
3@ARI (Sunday)SundayEven
4NYG (Sunday)Thursday Night FootballGiants
5@PIT (Sunday)BYESteelers
6DET (Sunday)BYELions
7BYE--- --
8ATL (Sunday)BYEEven
9@NO (Monday)SundayEven
10DAL (Sunday)Sunday Night FootballCowboys
11@WAS (Sunday)BYERedskins
12CAR (Monday)SundayEven
13@DAL (Sunday)Thursday Cowboys
14@TAM (Sunday)SundayEven
15CIN (Thursday)SundayEven
16WAS (Sunday)SundayEagles
17@NYG (Sunday)SundayEven


As you can see, there are six times when the Eagles face an opponent that hold the edge in the rest department. Only two times do the Eagles have the upper-hand.  These scheduling “inequities” couldn’t come at a worse time for the head coach. But, as the league laid out, those are the breaks.

“You’re dealt things in the National Football League, you’re dealt things in the game, each play you’re dealt things and you just go about your business. You do what you need to do,” said Reid. “I don’t worry about that. I worry about us taking care of our business.”

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  • Wall

    Future dynasties overcome these kinds of things.

    • Paul

      Neither dynasties nor perennial bottom dwellers should be dealt this kind of imbalanced schedule; it’s called a level playing field. I don’t know all the factors that the NFL has to deal in putting the schedule together (and I’m sure there are many), but I flat out know I could create fairer schedule in an afternoon.

      • Sorry but that Nov 30th game you have scheduled in Houston conflicts with a Maroon 5 concert. Try again.

  • Guest

    excuses coming early.

    • Brian

      Get off an eagles site then clown

  • Josh Tkachyk

    honestly i believe they have the talent to beat any team any day at a consistent basis but they need a healthy oline and to take care of the football. Execution is going to be the ruin of this team and spell the end for Andy Reid if they can’t right the ship.

  • jabostick

    Aside from the bye week opponents, the Eagles also have 4 games in 17 days coming up. Baltimore went through it early in the season and I think you could make the argument that it took a toll on them physically.

    Maybe not a valid ‘excuse’ (i.e. play the hand your dealt) but it could be a factor.

  • bigtimefan

    Sheil, you did not mention these specifics but, the Eagles also played the Giants on Sept. 30th, which was 9 days after the New York Giants played the Carolina Panthers, on Sept. 20th. So that is three weeks in a row that they had to play a team with a rest advantage. Also, they will play the Washinton Redskins on Nov. 19th, after they will be coming off their bye week, in addition they will play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Dec. 2nd, which will be 9 days after the Cowboys will have played the Washington Redskins on Nov. 22nd. So the result is, the Eagles have played 3 teams in a row that had a significant rest advantage and will play one ( Atlanta ) who is coming off the same bye week, which will give them no advantage. They also will play 2 more teams that will have had 9 days rest when the Eagles have had only 6 days rest. Three days might not seem like a lot to me and you, but to a NFL player those extra three days, must be huge, to get there bruised and battered bodies ready, for the next pounding on the field. Love 24 / 7

  • dislikedisqus

    Don’t understand 10 & 16. What gives the opponent the advantage?

    • John

      I agree. I’m missing those myself.

    • Cranky Caucasian

      Eagles are coming off short rest those weeks.

    • jabostick

      Week 10, Eagles are coming off the Monday nighter (therefore rest advantage to the Cowboys). In Week 16, Eagles have the extra rest from playing on a Thursday the week before, so advantage Birds.

  • johngiam

    who the hell knows how this weird eagles season will shake up. What I do know is that we have 3 really tough games left: atl after the bye week, the saint, at washington comin off a bye….after that, we have 7 very winnable games! we own the GIANTS no matter what they do to the rest of the nfl. no eagle fears going into their house. We can always beat Dallas twice. We can beat the skins at home and Carolina has looked pedestrian. We only played 1 division game so far, and the only division game that I fear is at washington coming off a bye. The key game to win, IMO will be the thursday night against cincinatti. winning that game could be crucial for the divisdion crown. lets not pretend that the mighty giants dont have a history of going into crazy slumps! This year is far from lost…and matt ryan always looks like a bitch at the linc. I have a feeling that he gets HIT OFTEN come sunday, and the eratic matty ice shows up…eagles are gonna win on sunday. However I have no idea what will happen in NO the following week.
    Key games:
    at washington
    at Giants
    Go 3-1 in those games, and we will win the division. go 1-3 in those games, and it will be at best, a 9-7 team more likely 8-8

  • 94raven

    Suck it up–the Eagles are playing in the mediocre NFC East, they are favored this week, and likely will have a decent shot against any of their opponents left on the schedule–the two tough games being the Saints and Giants away.

  • PhilaPhans

    They don’t explain why it was even necessary to schedule it like that. That’s the issue. Seems to be something that could be avoided so that no team ever had to deal with this kind of situation, which does include, as was mentioned, playing the Giants when they had 9-10 days off.

  • DF

    How is facing the Cowboys after the Cowboys play a Sunday Night game an advantage for the Cowboys?

    • jt

      cause we play monday the week before so they have more rest

  • Charlie

    On top of which, they give a divisional foe a bye vs the Eagles.. Great.

  • eagle_ed

    Why is the scheduling done this way? Why can’t they just give an entire division the week off and then the teams in the division all play each other when they return from their bye week? They could rotate who gets home field from year to year. Example you give the NFC east week 7 off week 8 the Eagles play the Giants and the Redskins play the Cowboys. No more bye week advantage for anyone.