Only six teams in the NFL have not yet had their bye week. Four of those – Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville, and the New York Jets – will get a rest in week 11. The Jets and Jaguars can spend their off week preparing for the long-term future, while the Cowboys and Ravens are gearing up for the stretch drive. What should we expect from this quartet when they return to action?
After starting 6-1, the Cowboys dropped two straight before bouncing back with a 31-17 win over the Jaguars in London in week 10. Dallas began the year with a home loss to San Francisco, put together six straight wins including victories over the Saints and Seahawks, and then dropped home games to Washington and Arizona. Tony Romo missed the entirety of the Arizona game due to a back injury suffered against Washington, but was impressive in his return against Jacksonville and will now use the week off to heal some more. The Cowboys are 6-4 against the spread including 4-0 on the road. Three of their first four after the bye will be on the road, including a Sunday night matchup with the Giants in week 12. Dallas beat New York 31-21 in week 7. Jason Garrett is 1-2 after bye weeks but did knock off the Giants 24-21 last year.
New York Jets
The Jets picked up wins in week 1 (over Oakland) and week 10 (over Pittsburgh). The eight games in between were all tallied in the loss column. The 20-13 win over Pittsburgh last weekend saved coach Rex Ryan’s job in the short-term. For Ryan to remain employed once the season wraps up, it is going to take a miracle in the final six weeks. New York travels to Buffalo after their bye and plays three of their next four away from home. The Jets are 2-7-1 against the spread on the year and 1-2-1 on the road. The Bills crushed the Jets 43-23 at MetLife Stadium in week 8. As coach of the Jets, Rex Ryan is 1-4 following a bye.
When the 1-9 Jaguars play well, they are competitive (but rarely win). When they are bad, they get throttled. Jacksonville had a string of three straight good efforts going when they lost to Pittsburgh 17-9 at home in week 5, got nipped by the Titans 16-14 in week 6, and beat Cleveland 24-6 in week 7. Every other game this year has been a double-digit loss. The Jags are 2-7-1 against the spread with equally bad results at home and on the road. They travel to Indianapolis after the bye to play the Colts, who crushed them 44-17 in Jacksonville in week 3. Last season, in his first year as head coach, Gus Bradley’s crew knocked off Tennessee 29-27 after the bye to begin a streak of four wins in five weeks. While it may be unreasonable to expect the same from rookie QB Blake Bortles, the Jags’ post-bye schedule is favorable. Only two of their final six games are against teams with winning records.
As week 11 begins, the entire AFC North is within a half-game of each other. Baltimore is off in week 11 after a 21-7 win over Tennessee in week 10. The win over the Titans put a stop to a two-game losing streak for the Ravens, who fell at Cincinnati 27-24 in week 8 and lost at Pittsburgh 43-23 in week 9. After their bye, the Ravens visit New Orleans, host San Diego, and travel to Miami. Baltimore is 5-4-1 against the spread, but has been much better at home (4-1) than on the road (1-3-1). Despite sitting last in the neck-and-neck AFC North, the Ravens have the top point differential in the division (+80) and the third best in the NFL behind only Denver and New England. John Harbaugh is 5-1 as a head coach following a regular season bye with the lone loss last season in Cleveland.
(Photo credit: AJ Guel (ajguel.com) (originally posted to Flickr as Dez Bryant) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)