The Buffalo Bills are on their bye week today, but the team will be returning to Orchard Park in the coming days to begin preparation for their Week 8 showdown with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.
There’s more than just a win on the line in that contest, too: in playing Green Bay a week from tonight, the Bills will look to extend their perfect record in games following the bye week under Sean McDermott. Since McDermott took over as head coach in 2017, the Bills are 5-0 in such contests.
Interestingly, all five of those games were home affairs for Buffalo, and the Packers game will make it six straight home games for the Bills coming off of the bye. Hat tip to the NFL’s schedule makers for that one.
The run started in 2017, when the Bills defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 30-27, in a Week 7 tilt at then-New Era Field. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 268 yards, ran for 53 more, and threw a touchdown pass; running back LeSean McCoy tallied 122 all-purpose yards and two scores; and the defense forced two Jameis Winston turnovers in the victory. The win moved Buffalo to 4-2; they would finish 9-7 and break their 17-season playoff drought that year.
In 2018, the Bills returned from the bye with their starting quarterback under center; then-rookie Josh Allen had missed the team’s previous four starts due to injury (the team went 1-3 in those contests), but his return after the bye sparked a strong stretch of football to close out that season. In the post-bye game against Jacksonville Jaguars, Allen completed only 8-of-19 passes, but scored two memorable touchdowns—a 75-yard pass to wideout Robert Foster, and 14-yard run—to knock off the Jags, 24-21.
As the Bills returned to playoff form in 2019, their post-bye week game came in Week 7, when they defeated the Miami Dolphins, 31-21, at New Era Field. Allen paced the Bills’ efforts in that one with with two touchdown passes (John Brown and Cole Beasley), but that game is probably best-remembered for a 45-yard touchdown return by Micah Hyde on an onside kick attempt late in the game. That win put the Bills at 5-1; the Bills are now 5-1 again this season, for the second time on McDermott’s watch.
Within the context of the 2020 season, the Bills’ post-bye week win—27-17 over the Los Angeles Chargers, again at home—stands out a bit. This was the year that Allen ascended and became one of the NFL’s most prolific passers, but this win over then-rookie Justin Herbert and the Chargers is notable because of the Bills’ performance on the ground. Devin Singletary (11-82), Zack Moss (9-59), and Allen (9-32-1) combined for 173 rushing yards as the Bills reeled in their aerial attack for a week. Cole Beasley threw a touchdown pass to then-rookie wide receiver Gabe Davis in this contest. Buffalo moved to 8-3 and wouldn’t lose the rest of the way, finishing the regular season with a 13-3 record. This game started an eight-game winning streak that concluded with a loss to Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.
Last season, the Bills came off their Week 7 bye to face the Dolphins once again in Orchard Park—and again emerged victorious. Allen threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns—one to Davis, the other to Stefon Diggs—and added another score on the ground as the Bills handed Miami their seventh straight loss and improved to 5-2 themselves. Buffalo would actually lose four of their next six games after this win, but rebounded enough by year’s end to win their second straight AFC East division title.
That’s five years of post-bye-week home games, and five Bills wins. The home streak will remain intact; we’ll see if the winning streak continues this time next week, as well.