What You Need to Know:
- The Jets, Bears, and Commanders have 12 extra days of rest than their opponents, the most in the league.
- The 49ers have 20 fewer days of rest than their opponents, the fewest in the league.
- The Colts were helped the most by the schedule followed by the Commanders and Browns.
- The Chiefs were hurt the most by the schedule followed by the 49ers and Eagles.
There are two elements to NFL strength of schedule:
- Strength of opponent
- Difficulty of scheduled timing
Who each team would play in 2023 was determined months ago, so the strength of opponent was already known, and those rankings can be found on Sharp Football Analysis.
When each team would play was not known until last week, however, and that NFL schedule release brought good news for some teams and bad news for several others.
In 2021, we saw 85 games played with a rest disparity between teams. That rose to 93 games in 2022. This year, it has increased to 95 games.
We have a team totaling 28 days of rest disadvantage (most in several years) while another team has zero games with a rest disadvantage.
We have a team totaling 17 days of rest advantage (most in several years) while another team plays zero games with a rest advantage. The total straddle has increased by 45% compared to last year.
Increasingly, the NFL schedule has created haves and have-nots when it comes to rest and prep time, and those differences affect the outcome on the field.
Why Does Rest Disparity Matter?
Net rest is the extra number of rest days a team has over their opponent per game, summed over the course of the season.
Last year, three teams had net rest edges of negative-10 days or worse: Packers (-12), Patriots (-10), and Texans (-10). All three fell below their expected win total.
The two teams with the best net rest edges last year, the Bills (+12) and Lions (+11), went over their win totals. Buffalo hit the over despite one fewer game because of the Demar Hamlin injury, and the Lions were one of the most surprising success stories of 2022.
Rest edges also matter for weekly lines.
Last year, teams with a net rest edge of three or more days went 32-24-1 (57%) and covered the spread at a 54.4% rate.
It is even more valuable later in the season.
Since 2015, teams with a three or more day rest advantage from Week 13 onward have won 55.2% of their games and have covered the spread in 55.7% of games over a 106-game sample.
This is despite the betting lines at times being “adjusted” to account for these rest edges.
Understanding rest and prep advantages is a great way to find an edge both in NFL win totals and weekly game lines.
NFL Rest Disparity 2023:
- Each block represents a game where rest is not equal between a team and its opponent — if rest is identical, no block is displayed
- A positive number indicates the team has a rest advantage of that many days, and a negative number indicates a rest disadvantage of that many days
- Example: The Cowboys face one team who is off of a bye (-7) and another off a Thursday night game (-3). However, they have a bye before facing the Rams (+6), play on Thursday before the Eagles (+3), play the Jets off a Monday night game (+1), and play on Saturday before facing the Commanders (+1). Added together, that gives them an overall rest edge of plus one day.
Which NFL team has the best rest edge in 2023?
The New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and Washington Commanders have the best rest edges for the 2023 NFL season.
Those three teams have 12 more days of rest than their opponents.
Which NFL team has the worst rest edge in 2023?
The San Francisco 49ers have the worst rest edge for the 2023 NFL season.
The 49ers have 20 fewer days of rest than their opponents.
Rest and Prep Rankings:
Which NFL team was helped the most by the 2023 schedule?
The Colts were helped the most by the 2023 NFL schedule when considering every rest and prep variable.
The Commanders, Browns, Cardinals, and Titans round out the top five teams helped the most by the 2023 NFL schedule.
Which NFL team was hurt the most by the 2023 schedule?
The Chiefs were hurt the most by the 2023 NFL schedule when considering every rest and prep variable.
The 49ers, Eagles, Vikings, and Giants round out the top five teams hurt the most by the 2023 NFL schedule.
San Francisco 49ers Schedule Notes:
The San Francisco 49ers stand out as the team that was negatively impacted the most. They have a negative-20 day net rest edge.
How is that possible? Well, for starters they play four teams coming off bye weeks:
- Week 6 @ Cleveland (who are off a Week 5 bye)
- Week 8 vs Cincinnati (who are off a Week 7 bye)
- Week 10 @ Jacksonville (both SF and JAX are off Week 9 byes)
- Week 15 @Arizona (who are off a Week 14 bye)
Considering both teams have byes ahead of the Week 10 matchup, that particular game does not impact the net rest calculations as the rest disparity sums to zero.
However, the game vs the Bengals in Week 8 gives Cincinnati plus-eight days of rest edge as the 49ers play on Monday Night in Minnesota in Week 7. Thus, the 49ers are coming off of a short-week road game with reduced rest while the Bengals are off a bye.
Three of these four games are on the road.
Additionally, the 49ers must face the Seahawks late in the season (Week 14) when Seattle is off a nice “mini-bye,” having played Week 13 on Thursday night and obtaining a plus-three day rest advantage over their division rival 49ers in Week 14.
The 49ers also play Washington in Week 17 on a short week. The 49ers play on Monday night in Week 16 at home vs the Ravens and then must travel across the country to visit the Commanders for an early 1 pm game just six days later in Week 17.
In total, the 49ers play five games with a rest disadvantage, and the total days of rest disadvantage they have in those games is 26 days.
They get two games with rest advantage: Week 4 vs the Cardinals follows a “mini-bye” off a Week 3 San Francisco home game on Thursday Night, and Week 13 @ the Eagles features an extra three days of rest and prep as the 49ers play Thanksgiving night in Week 12.
Now juxtapose that rest disadvantage totaling 26 days against a team like the Bears, who play zero games with a rest disadvantage and are tied at No. 1 in the NFL with a net rest edge of plus-12 days.
It definitely will be difficult for the 49ers this year.
New York Jets Schedule Notes:
Long has the NFL hoped a marquee quarterback would grace a marketplace like New York, and they got their wish when the Jets acquired Aaron Rodgers this offseason.
Suddenly, the Jets are given the best net rest edge in the NFL.
The Jets have a total of plus-12 days of net rest edge and play five games with more rest than their opponent (more on that later).
They get a bye week ahead of playing the Giants in Week 8. Luckily for the Jets, that game counts as a road game despite them playing at their home stadium.
So from October 5 through November 12, the Jets don’t leave New York.
They also have an advantage in key divisional games which could ultimately make a difference in who wins the AFC East.
The Jets don’t have a single rest disadvantage in any games they play against their division.
But in Week 11, the Jets get to play the Bills after Buffalo plays on Monday Night Football, thus putting the Bills on a day less rest.
In Week 15, the Jets take on the Dolphins. And similarly, the Dolphins play on Monday Night Football the week prior and have less rest before they face the Jets.
Finally, in Week 18 the Jets take on the Patriots. The Jets play on Thursday Night Football the week prior (Week 17) which gives them three more days to rest and prepare to face New England.
Not accounted for in the above example of having extra rest is another nugget which is what happens in Week 12 against the Dolphins.
The NFL decided to schedule their first Black Friday game ever. That game obviously is the Friday after Thanksgiving. And you can guess who they wanted to be the spotlight of such a historical game. The Jets. And for the game to be in New York.
As a result, the Jets’ opponent for that game (Miami Dolphins) must travel on a short week and play on the road, which presents a disadvantage to the team making that road trip on a short week.
In summary, the Jets play four divisional games late in the season. All four of those games give them a key rest advantage over their opponent. And these advantages add up and could definitely help the Jets in 2023 in the AFC East.
The Jets are the only team in the NFL to play four games with a rest edge from Week 11 onwards. Meanwhile, 14 teams have either zero or one game with a rest edge from Week 11 onwards. That is a notable benefit for Rodgers’ new team.
Before the schedule was released, we already knew of another key advantage the Jets had, and that was the ability for them to play 10 games in their home stadium. But the way the games were scheduled provides added edges.
Philadelphia Eagles Schedule Notes:
The Eagles have a negative-six-day net rest edge, tied for sixth-worst in the NFL. They have only one game that features more rest than their opponent, and it is extremely early in the season.
In Week 2, the Eagles play on Thursday night. As a result, prior to their game in Week 3 against Tampa Bay, they have extra rest. And that is the only game of the entire year the Eagles have the benefit of a rest advantage over their opponent.
Even for their bye week (Week 10), their opponent, the Chiefs, has a bye week the same week.
Additionally, there is a three-week span, from Week 12 through Week 14, that the Eagles will play with a rest disadvantage. And all three games are against powerhouses:
- Week 12 they are off a Monday Night Football game when they play the Bills, so one day less rest.
- Week 13 they play the 49ers who are off a Thanksgiving game the week prior, so three days less rest.
- Week 14 they play the Cowboys who are off a Thursday Night game the week prior, so three days less rest.
Kansas City Chiefs Schedule Notes:
The Super Bowl Champion Chiefs have a net rest edge of negative-13, the third-worst in the NFL this year.
But for the Chiefs, it’s not just that they have less rest in general. They have less rest than their opponent for six straight weeks, from Week 12 through Week 17:
- Week 12 they are off a Monday Night Football game when they play the Raiders, so one day less rest.
- Week 13 they play the Packers who played on Thanksgiving the week prior, so three days less rest.
- Week 14 they play the Bills who are off a bye, so seven days less rest.
- Week 15 they play the Patriots who are off a Thursday Night game, so three days less rest.
- Week 16 they play the Raiders who are off a Thursday Night game, but because KC is off a Monday Night game, it is four days less rest for the Chiefs.
- Week 17 they play the Bengals who are off a Saturday game, but because KC is off another Monday Night game, it is two days less rest for the Chiefs.
It would be one thing to have the third-worst net rest edge in the NFL. But for there to be six games in a row where they are dealing with (most often) multiple days rest disadvantage, and for them to come late in the season as they do, will be extremely challenging on the Chiefs.
And for the record, in 2021 the Chiefs were plus-nine in net rest edge (fifth best), and in 2022 the Chiefs were plus-seven in net rest edge (sixth best).
So it has been a long time coming for them to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, but that will certainly be the case in 2023.
The Chiefs will be -20 in net rest from Week 12 through the end of the season.
Green Bay Packers Schedule Notes:
The Packers sit at a perfectly balanced “zero” in net rest, but they do have an extremely kind start to the season with some nice rest edges.
Through Week 8, the Packers play four games in which they have more rest than their opponents and zero games when they are in a rest deficit. That’s the best start for any team.
- Week 3 they take on the Saints in Green Bay, and the Saints are coming off a Monday night road game.
- Week 5 they get the Raiders, and thanks to the fact the Packers played on Thursday the week prior, they have three days more rest.
- Week 6 they are on a bye, so they have more rest than the Broncos in Week 7.
- Week 8, they host the Vikings, who are off a Monday Night game the prior week.
While early rest means less than late rest, having early rest edges are better than none at all, so the Packers need to look to take advantage of it if possible.
New York Giants Schedule Notes:
The New York Giants find themselves at negative-nine in net rest edge, fifth-worst in the NFL. And unfortunately for them, it is clustered near the end of the season, though not nearly as bad as the Chiefs or Eagles.
The Giants have three games from Weeks 12 through 17 where they play with a rest disadvantage. In addition, they play four games during a five-week stretch where their opponent has over six days to prepare for them.
That is second-most in the NFL, behind the Chiefs.
Chicago Bears Schedule Notes:
The Bears are 0-9 outright as well as 1-8 against the spread the last three years when their opponent has more rest than they do.
Fortunately, that won’t matter in 2023 because Chicago is the only team this year to not play a single game with less rest than their opponent.
Atlanta Falcons Schedule Notes:
The Falcons are on the other end of the spectrum.
This year, they play zero games where they have a rest advantage over their opponent, which is too bad for Atlanta, as they’ve historically been one of the better teams with a rest advantage (9-4 straight up and against the spread the last five years).
They are the only team in the NFL this year without a single game featuring a rest advantage.
Houston Texans Schedule Notes:
Only two of the Texans’ 17 games feature a rest disparity. They play one game with a one-day rest advantage, and they play one game with a three-day rest disadvantage.
No other team features fewer games of rest disparity.
Houston doesn’t even get a bye-week rest advantage because the team they play after the bye (Carolina) also has a bye the same week Houston does, creating no rest edge for the Texans.