Buffalo Bills fans that are dreading a road trip to the 6-1 Houston Texans this Sunday may take some comfort in the fact that, regardless of what else has gone wrong during his tenure, the Bills have actually played well after the bye week in two such games under head coach Chan Gailey.
In 2010, the 0-5 Bills traveled to take on a Baltimore Ravens team that ultimately finished 12-4 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs. Buffalo took Baltimore to overtime that day, losing 37-34 when a Shawn Nelson fumble in the extra session set up Baltimore's game-winning field goal. Buffalo's passing offense was on fire that day, with wide receivers Stevie Johnson and Lee Evans combining for 14 receptions, 263 yards and four touchdowns.
Last year, the Bills played the Washington Redskins at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, notching a 23-0 shutout win in perhaps the most complete victory of Gailey's tenure. Buffalo's defense was dominant, sacking then-Redskins quarterback John Beck 10 times and recording two interceptions in the shutout. Fred Jackson added 194 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches, and Scott Chandler had two receptions for two touchdowns.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, in particular, has played well in the team's two post-bye games under Gailey. Combine his production from the two games and you end up with this stat line: 50 completions in 70 attempts (that's a 71.4 percent completion percentage) for 644 yards (at 9.2 yards per pass attempt) with six touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 110.7. Against the Redskins, however, he also suffered the two cracked ribs that purportedly derailed half of the 2011 season.
Buffalo's trip to Houston feels a lot like that 2010 trip to Baltimore; even though the Bills are much more talented and have a significantly better record this time around, fans are in a similar place emotionally (i.e. they're operating sans hope and with a minimum of expectation) awaiting a game against an AFC power. If the Bills' performance in two post-bye games under Gailey doesn't calm your nerves, perhaps those aforementioned lowered expectations will do the trick.