Is having an extra week of training camp an advantage for week one?

July 11, 2018

While the Buffalo Bills are still two weeks away from reporting to training camp at St. John Fisher, Baltimore Ravens’ rookies reported to their training camp in Owings Mills, Maryland, on Wednesday.  The two teams play each other week one of the 2018 regular-season.

Since the newest Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed by the NFL and it’s Players’ Union back in 2011, it’s been the rule that teams are allowed to report to and begin their training camps fifteen days prior to their first preseason game.  That means teams playing in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game are allowed to begin their camp at least one week before everyone else.  And teams can choose to have their rookies report up to seven days prior to veterans.  That’s what the Ravens elected to do.

That means Ravens rookies have a fourteen-day head-start on all Bills’ players and their veterans have a seven-day head-start.

An extra seven (or more) days of practice before your first regular season game would be a nice advantage to have over that opening-game opponent, you would think.  But is it?  Has it translated to more wins for the team that started earlier?

After digging in and doing the research of how teams who played in the Hall of Fame Game performed in their regular-season opener, since 2011 there has been no quantifiable advantage as far as wins vs. losses.  In fact, after going a combined 4-2 on opening weekend from 2012 - 2014, teams who played in the Hall of Fame Game have gone a combined 1-3 since, for an overall record of 5-5.  

Strangely, the Detroit Lions have actually opened their regular season against one of the HOF Game participants in each of the past three years the game was played.  And the Lions won each of those games.

The Bills have played once in the Hall of Fame Game in that time period when they faced the New York Giants in 2014.  Five weeks later, they beat the Chicago Bears in overtime in their regular-season opener.  

Here are the results for week one for every team that’s participated in the Hall of Fame Game since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed in 2011.  Note: There was no game in 2011 due to the lockout and no game in 2016 due to poor field conditions.

Arizona Cardinals - Win
New Orleans Saints - Lose

Miami Dolphins - Win
Dallas Cowboys - Win

New York Giants - Lose
Buffalo Bills - Win

Pittsburgh Steelers - Lose
Minnesota Vikings - Lose

No Game Played

Arizona Cardinals - Lose
Dallas Cowboys - Win

Not only has it not shown to be an advantage for teams to get the extra week or more practice time in, it may even be a disadvantage by the time their first real game rolls around. That’s because more practices also means the possibilities for more injuries, especially if a team likes to hold more physical practices with more live hitting.

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