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Teams have struggled after playing on Thursday nights

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills are grateful for their football-free weekend. They got a few days off because they played Thursday night, defeating the Miami Dolphins in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The extra time would seem to be a substantial benefit for the next game, but season trends don't support that notion. Teams that have played on Thursday nights have a losing record in their follow-up games.

Here are the numbers:

* Teams that play on Thursday nights are 6-12 the next week. Thursday night games started in Week Two. In the first week, the Dallas Cowboys played the New York Giants on a Wednesday night. They went 1-1 in their subsequent games.

* Of the Thursday night teams factored into the 6-12 (.333) follow-up record, 10 currently are over .500 and eight are below .500. Their combined record is 86-92 (.483) entering this week.

* Thursday night winners are 4-5 the following week.

* Thursday night losers are 2-7 the following week.

* Teams that play on the road after a Thursday night game are 5-10.

* Only three teams have played at home after a Thursday night game so far. They have gone 1-2.

* Of the 18 teams that have played on Thursday nights, seven of them have lost both games and seven of them have split, while four of them have won both games.

* All four teams that won both their Thursday night and follow-up games were the away team on the back end. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only team to win both games on the road in Weeks Eight and Nine.

* Thursday night teams have gone 1-5 in their follow-up games over the past three weeks.

* Three Thursday night games have featured both teams with winning records today, and two have featured both teams with losing records today. Of the three games with both teams over .500, their record in follow-up games was 3-3. Of the two games with both teams under .500, their record was 0-4.

* The lone team with a current losing record to win its followup game: the Tennessee Titans, who beat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Week Six and then beat the Bills on the road in Week Seven.

The Bills spent their Thursday-night practice bonus Monday afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

While their upcoming opponents, the Indianapolis Colts, nursed their injuries and rehashed what happened Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., the Bills got a two-day head start on Week 12 preparations.

The Bills, coming off a 19-14 victory over the Dolphins, conducted a full practice in the stadium.

"Totally Indy," Bills coach Chan Gailey said of Monday's focus. "You're onto the next game. You talked about all that stuff [what happened against the Dolphins] last Friday and got it done and then you're on to the next thing."

Teams traditionally use Mondays for recovery, and Tuesdays are off days for teams that play on Sundays. The Colts are in that routine after losing, 59-24, to the New England Patriots.

The Bills, however, have already started to install their game plan for Indianapolis. And now they can do some more efficient homework today.

"They get to look at the other team," Gailey said. "They get to talk about what we're going to do game-plan-wise. Now they can watch some film on their own, and it makes sense to them. So it's a real positive."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |