The Falcons will take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday after a nice, long bye week break for both teams. Teams coming off of a bye have a slightly higher winning percentage league-wide, with an average of just over 52%, but one of these teams will more than likely lose post-bye--they could tie, but that’s pretty uncommon. Much has been made of Andy Reid’s perfect record after the bye, but, have the Eagles been as solid in games versus opponents that are coming off of their bye week? Not exactly.
The Eagles beat the 2003 Falcons following Atlanta’s bye week. The Falcons finished the season 5-11, and going into the bye week, they were 1-6 while Philly was 4-3. The Eagles finished that season 12-4 and made it all the way to the NFC Championship.
The Eagles lost to the Cowboys after Dallas’ bye in 2005. Going into that game, the Cowboys were 5-3. The Eagles were 4-4 going into that game, and finished the season 6-10. Dallas finished with a 9-7 record.
Eagles lost to the Cowboys after Dallas’ bye in 2007. The Cowboys were 7-1 going into the bye week, and they finished the season 13-3. The Eagles were 3-4 going into that game, and finished the season 8-8.
In 2008, the Eagles beat the Falcons following both teams’ bye weeks. The Eagles were 3-3 heading into that game, much like this season, and they finished the season 9-6-1. The Falcons, as you’ll remember, were off to a good start with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan under center. Atlanta finished the season 11-5, and were 4-2 going into bye week.
In 2010, the Eagles beat the Redskins after Washington’s bye week. The Redskins were 4-4 going into bye, but finished the season 6-10. The Eagles were 5-3 going into that game, and finished the season 10-6.
In 2011, the Eagles beat the Redskins coming off of Washington’s bye week. The Redskins were 3-1 going into the bye, but hit a tailspin after that, finishing the season 5-11 and paving the way for the team to make moves to draft Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick they acquired from the St. Louis Rams. The Eagles were 1-4 going into that game, and finished the season 8-8.
This season, the Eagles lost to the Lions following Detroit’s bye week in week six. The Eagles were 3-2 going into that game, and are currently 3-3. The Lions were 1-3 prior to their bye, and are now 2-4.
Mike Smith is no slouch after the bye week, either. Smitty is currently 3-1 after the bye, with the singular loss coming in 2008 to the Eagles following concurrent bye weeks for the Eagles and Falcons.
What is not surprising about the outcomes of these games is that the Eagles have tended to win games following the opponent’s bye week when the opponent finishes the season with a losing record. The notable exception was the 2008 matchup with the Falcons, which was also following the Eagles’ bye week. The Falcons finished that season 11-5.
When the Eagles have lost games to the following opponents’ bye weeks, the Cowboys have had winning records going into the respective bye weeks, and finished the season with winning records both seasons. The notable exception for this trend happened this season, in the post-bye week loss to the Lions, who had a losing record going into that game, and have a losing record at the moment.
There are a lot of extenuating factors with this Eagles team. The Eagles currently have a -9 turnover ratio, which is pretty abysmal, and Philly’s offensive line has been inadequate this season. The Falcons, on the other hand, have been very successful in forcing turnovers and rushing the passer, which makes this a great matchup for Atlanta’s defense.
Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was fired prior to the bye week, which does somewhat impact Atlanta’s preparation in that it is difficult to anticipate what Philadelphia may change defensively. Also, LeSean McCoy has the potential to be one of the better running backs in the league, but to this point in the season, he has not been a big factor in Andy Reid’s game plans. Atlanta’s run defense has been less than stout through the first six games, but if the Eagles decide to use McCoy differently this Sunday, and the Falcons are not adequately prepared to stop him, it could be a long game.
I am expecting the Falcons to come away with another win on Sunday, effectively breaking Andy Reid’s impressive post-bye streak, but I anticipate that it will not come easily. What is your prediction for Sunday’s game against the Eagles?