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.)

 

Week
Eagles Opponent/ Day
Opponent the Previous Week
Advantage
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.”