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The Green Bay Packers could have taken the traditional bye week following a Week 6 trip overseas to play the New York Giants in London. Instead, the team requested a later bye week and the NFL granted the request.
The Packers will have to wait until Week 14 for a week off during the 2022 regular season.
Both coach Matt LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst confirmed that the Packers put in a request with the NFL to have a later bye week. Instead of having to play 12 straight games to end the season, the Packers will play 13 straight to start the season but get a valuable week off in December to rest up and get healthy for the stretch run and into the playoffs.
The NFL grants some leeway for teams playing in London due to the challenge of the trip. Most teams have taken the bye week immediately after to help tired and jet-lagged bodies recover.
There have been 60 games in London during the NFL’s International Series. Only four times before 2022 had a team requested to not have the bye week immediately after the trip, so the Packers are bucking the trend.
The Minnesota Vikings are doing the same; Kevin O’Connell’s team plays in London in Week 4 but delayed the bye week until Week 7.
Week 14 is the latest possible bye week and the latest bye week for the Packers in team history. Last season, the Packers had a Week 13 bye.
The downside is having to play the New York Jets just seven days after facing the Giants in London, creating a likely disadvantage in terms of rest and recovery. The Packers think the London trip being sandwiched between home games (Week 4 vs. Patriots, Week 6 vs. Jets) could help ease the burden of the transatlantic adventure.
There’s also a potential payoff: Despite the grueling stretch to start the season, the Packers will get a bye week during the second weekend of December and then play three of the final four games at home, including a Monday night showdown against the Los Angeles Rams coming out of the bye and the season finale against the Detroit Lions. This could be an unusually rested and healthy team come the final month.
LaFleur has coached in London as an assistant twice before, so he understands what goes into the prep and recovery. And his decision was no doubt influenced by conversations with players, including those in the leadership council.
The Packers had no great options: The team either had to have the bye week early and face a gauntlet late in the season, or fight through the logistical challenges early for the benefits of a later bye. The Packers picked the later bye week. Time will tell if LaFleur and Gutekunst made the correct decision.