By Sal Capaccio
The Bills and New York Giants play in the Hall of Fame Game. That means they’re the only teams in the NFL with five preseason games. It also means an extra week of practice and an extra game to get ready for the regular season. But does it mean a better chance to win opening weekend? Well, that depends on how you interpret the history.
I’ve gone back and looked at the previous ten years of preseason football. Well, eleven years, really, but no team played more than four preseason games in 2011 due to the lockout.
Since 2003, there have been 10 Hall of Fame Games and two international games in Japan as "extra" preseason games for teams. Twelve games total. That’s 24 teams who played an extra game.
Their overall records in Week One of the regular season in those years: 12-12.
Obviously, a stalemate that proves nothing. Unless you want to dig a bit deeper and, of course, look for some optimism regarding the Bills chances Week One at Chicago. To do that, just look at the difference in Week One records before the new CBA vs. after it was signed. Why? Because in the new CBA, teams can’t hit, or even practice as much as they used to be able to leading up to the regular season. So, with already limited work allowed, the extra week may actually prove to be more valuable. Also, two-a-day practices were allowed before the new CBA. They aren’t anymore. That meant teams with an extra week in the preseason could get worn down and suffer more injuries than teams who didn’t have that fifth game.
Here are the numbers pre and post new CBA:
From 2006-2010, teams with an extra preseason game were only 2-8 in their regular season openers.
From 2008-2010, they were 0-6, including both the Bills and Titans who played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2009 and lost Week One.
However, since the new CBA rules came into play, teams with the extra week of preseason work are 3-1 in their regular season openers.
What does it all mean for the Bills September 7th at Chicago? Bills fans certainly hope the latest trend continues.
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