The Buffalo Bills entered their Week 4 match-up with the New England Patriots in “prove-it” mode. A win would have shown those in the national media that the team is for real in 2019, but a big loss would have caused many to sigh about the “same old Bills.”
Rather than a victory or a blowout, the Bills instead fought hard in dropping a tightly contested 16-10 defensive battle. In a game where the highest-rated quarterback was Buffalo’s Matt Barkley (56), it’s clear that the defenses ruled the day. In a league where there are no moral victories, however, the Bills still came up short on the scoreboard.
Over at ESPN, the power-rankers-in-chief gave the Bills some credit for hanging tough with New England, keeping the Bills at No. 12 overall in their poll. The Worldwide Leader’s weekly focus was their Football Power Index (FPI) system’s playoff projections, which put the Bills’ chances at making the tournament at 56%. Marcel Louis-Jacques said that the best way for Buffalo to make the playoffs is to “[c]ontinue to win the games they’re supposed to and stop turning the ball over.” Thanks, Captain Obvious.
Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News ranked Buffalo No. 13, down three spots from last week. He gave Buffalo credit in hanging tough in what he termed a “battle of attrition” against his top-ranked team, but he noted that neither of Buffalo’s quarterbacks was up to the task of competing against New England’s top-flight defense.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports dropped Buffalo three spots, as well, as the Bills fell to No. 9 this week. Prisco said that Buffalo has to perform better offensively, and singled out quarterback Josh Allen as someone who needs to improve. Prisco said, “Josh Allen has to throw it better.”
Matt Maiocco at NBC Sports left Buffalo alone at No. 10 this week. His write-up was short, sweet, and very complimentary of veteran running back Frank Gore. “Frank Gore. Freakin’ Frank Gore. Frank Freakin’ Gore. That’s all,” he said. Gore looked great against the Patriots, toting the rock 17 times for 109 yards.
Bleacher Report bumped Buffalo up one spot after hanging tough with New England, as Buffalo rose to No. 14 in their poll this week. Their panel noted that the Bills have some reasons to feel good about the way they played Sunday even though they were unable to come away with a win. They mention the fact that Buffalo out gained New England on the day, holding the Patriots to only 224 yards of total offense. They stifled Tom Brady, and they only allowed one offensive touchdown (the write-up erroneously says that Buffalo did not allow an offensive touchdown, but Brandon Bolden scored on a four-yard rush in the first quarter). Noting that it was “four turnovers and a special teams letdown” that kept the Bills from victory, they called the game a step in the right direction.
Dan Hanzus at NFL.com dropped Buffalo five spots this week, with the Bills coming in at No. 11. He called Allen’s performance “disappointing,” and not because he left the game early with a head injury (if you’re like me, you might be thinking that’s a weird caveat to note, as well). Hanzus said that Allen looked “a lot like ‘bad Josh Allen’ that Bills fans hoped had been left behind last year.” He praised the defense, however, for forcing Tom Brady to look entirely out of sorts for the game’s duration.
Nate Davis at USA Today also gave Buffalo a one-spot bump, as the Bills come in at No. 11 this week. He said that the Bills “should have won over some naysayers after hanging tough” against New England. He counters that by saying that the team will be hard-pressed to continue their success if Allen is going to miss much time.
And in this week’s most inexplicable ranking, Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB has Buffalo ranked...No. 18? Seriously? Okay then. Here’s a list of teams with fewer wins than Buffalo ranked higher than the Bills in this week’s poll: The Philadelphia Eagles (2-2; 5th), the Detroit Lions (2-1-1; 10th), the Los Angeles Chargers (2-2; 12th), the Minnesota Vikings (2-2; 13th), the Baltimore Ravens (2-2; 14th), the Tennessee Titans (2-2; 15th), the Cleveland Browns (2-2; 16th), and the Indianapolis Colts (2-2; 17th). They listed the final score of Sunday’s game incorrectly, writing that Buffalo lost 16-6 to their No. 2 team (Patriots). (The Kansas City Chiefs are No. 1.) Buffalo has a chance to beat one of the teams ranked ahead of them this weekend when they travel to Nashville to square off against the Titans.