Back-to-back prime-time games give teams mini-bye

Posted Sept. 22, 2012 @ 11:50 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

The Packers have a long time to enjoy their big, statement win on Thursday night over the rival Bears. Thanks to Green Bay’s appeal to prime-time audiences, the Packers get an extra-long break, as they don’t play again until Monday night in Week Three.

The unusually long break between games gives the Packers 10 days before they have to head to Seattle, always a tough place to play. A normal bye week gives a team 13 days between games.

With the new Thursday-night schedule starting in Week One (it was Wednesday this season because of the Democratic National Convention), we’ll start to see more teams get what is essentially a mini bye week. The 49ers (Thursday-night game in Week Seven, Monday-night game in Week Eight), Chiefs (Weeks Nine-10) and Redskins (Weeks 12-13) will get the benefit of an extra few days between games thanks to back-to-back prime-time games.

Even with Thursday-night games starting midseason the past two years, we’ve seen multiple teams get this break, however it doesn’t necessarily lead to more success on the field. Here’s a look at the seven teams that have had a Monday-night game following a Thursday-night game in the past two seasons.

1. Falcons / Weeks 15-16, 2011 — The Falcons put a Thursday-night hurt on the Jaguars in Week 15 last season, 41-14. Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes and Roddy White and Julio Jones combined for 220 receiving yards. The extra days of preparation appeared key for a Falcons team looking to upset the Saints in the Superdome in Week 16, which would keep at least a share of a division title within reach, but the Saints were having none of that. Drew Brees tossed four TD passes in a 45-16 romp over Atlanta that included 21 unanswered points from the Saints.

2. Steelers / Weeks 14-15, 2011 — The Steelers won their fourth consecutive game in Week 14, topping the Browns 14-3 in an ugly game on Thursday night. The extra days rest were important considering the Steelers had to head cross-country and face a physical 49ers club, but the mini-bye didn’t do the Steelers any good. San Fran showed what it was capable of on a national stage, dominating the Steelers 20-3 on “Monday Night Football.”

3. Seahawks / Weeks 13-14, 2011 — The Seahawks started a three-game win streak thanks to back-to-back prime-time games. On Thursday night, the 4-7 Seahawks got their fifth win by upsetting an unraveling Eagles team 31-14. Marshawn Lynch ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle picked off Philly backup QB Vince Young four times. The following Monday night, the Seahawks topped the woeful Rams 30-13 behind a 115-yard rushing output from Lynch.

4. Texans / Weeks 13-14, 2010 — Houston was a year shy of being ready for the prime-time stage. On Thursday night, they dropped to 5-7 on the season, losing to the Eagles 34-24, giving up 302 passing yards and 48 rushing yards to Michael Vick. On Monday night, they played a spirited game against a Ravens team that jumped out to a 28-7 lead. Houston fought back to force overtime, but Josh Wilson intercepted Matt Schaub in overtime, returning it 12 yards for the win and overshadowing a 393-yard passing night for Schaub.

5. Jets and Patriots / Weeks 12-13, 2010 — The Jets and Pats both played on Thanksgiving in 2010, then met up the following Monday night, so both teams had the extra days to prep for the big divisional matchup. On Thanksgiving, the Jets topped the Bengals 26-10 and the Patriots thumped the Lions 45-24. In a highly anticipated Monday-night game, the Patriots seemed to use their extended break between games in a more efficient manner, as they dominated, winning 45-3 behind four Tom Brady touchdowns. The Jets got the last laugh in the playoffs, though, eliminating the Patriots in the divisional round.

6. Saints / Weeks One-Two, 2010 — The Saints opened the 2010 season on Thursday night in a rematch of the previous season’s NFC title game, and they beat the Vikings in a low-scoring affair, 14-9. New Orleans got the mini-bye early in the season, getting extra rest before a Monday-nighter against the 49ers in San Francisco. Drew Brees’ 30-yard completion to Marques Colston set up Garrett Hartley’s 37-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Saints a 25-22 victory.